Count Tibor Kálnoky: Charles’s distant kin whose family inspired Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’


After Count Tibor Kálnoky helped Charles find a property in Transylvania, Romania, the relationship between the distant relatives blossomed into a strong friendship.

In the early Noughties, King Charles was introduced to Count Tibor Kálnoky by the then-president of Romania, Ion Iliescu.

The Monarch had become enamoured with Romania after several visits and, as a result of Count Kálnoky’s restoration work in Transylvania, the pair were put in touch as Charles was interested in buying a property in the area.

It was Count Kálnoky who found Charles the property he bought in Zalanpatak in 2006, according to the Times, which the King typically visits once a year, during the late spring and early summer and will be heading to next month.

In the years since the pair have become good friends with the Hungarian nobleman overseeing the former Prince of Wales’s properties in the Transylvanian region.

But who exactly is Count Kálnoky? delves into the man’s life.

Count Kalnoky standing in a bedroom

Count Kalnoky standing in a bedroom in his manor in 2005 (Image: Getty)

In an interview with the Telegraph in 2012, Count Kálnoky explained that his title is the equivalent of an Earl in the UK.

His family can be traced back to medieval times and received its title from the Habsburg Emperor and Hungarian King Leopold I in 1697 when his ancestor, Samuel, was made chancellor of Transylvania at the court of Vienna.

He is related to the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula, Vlad Tepes, “only very, very distantly”. Not only that, but he has a distant connection with the British Royal Family and King Charles himself.

Count Hugo Leopold was married to Countess Marie Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s niece.

Count Kalnoky standing in front of plates

Count Kalnoky pursued tourism in the region and met Charles in the early Noughties (Image: Getty)

While Count Kálnoky has deep ties with Transylvania, he spent his childhood all over Europe, attending kindergarten in the Netherlands and school in the South of France before moving to Paris at 11.

His family had been expelled from Romania by the fascist rulers in the build-up to World War 2, his “poor” grandfather was kicked out because he was an anti-communist and anti-fascist.

Like Charles, he has a deep love and respect for animals, starting a “bird hospital” when he was just 16. Later, he graduated from university as a veterinarian.

At the age of 21, in a bid to learn more about his heritage, he began to learn Hungarian.

King Charles's Blue House

The Count help Charles find the Blue House (Image: Getty)

He then lived in Budapest where he worked for a pharmaceutical company where he met his wife, Anna Boga, with whom he has three children. The couple tied the knot at the family’s ancestral home, the castle of Miklosvar, in 1994.

After working in Germany, again for a pharmaceutical company, Count Kálnoky returned to Transylvania in the Nineties and won an application from the Norwegian Fund so he could rebuild the family castle.

In Charlie Ottley’s 2011 Wild Carpathia documentary, the Count said that he did not have enough land to make a living, so he began to pursue tourism.

He explained that it was the “ideal way” to support the villagers as they can earn money while still tending to their own farms.

Count Kálnoky pursuit of tourism was a success to the point where he was later put in touch with Charles who first visited in 1998. Charles was so enamoured by the area that he later bought properties in the region which he now visits each year.

Charles, through the Prince of Wales Foundation, did a great deal of charity work in Transylvania, particularly in sustainable development, conservation and farming systems, according to David Hughes’s 2007 book, The British Chronicles.

Through this, Count Kálnoky became a trustee of Charles’s foundation in Romania.

Charles travels to his Transylvanian cottage every year, meeting with his distant relatives to go on long walks. In 2021, Count Kálnoky told Transylvania Now that Charles has become an admirer of the region because he was “totally overwhelmed by its unique beauty and its extraordinarily rich heritage.”

Then, in 2011, he was invited to Westminster Abbey to attend the wedding of Kate, Princess of Wales and Prince William.


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