It may have been the year without a Halloween here in the northeast coastal region of the United States, but it looks like some of the spirit has persisted into November. My daughter was disappointed when, due to storm damage, our local borough cancelled Trick-or-Treating for this year. So I was intrigued when I spotted a news story yesterday discussing Prince Charles’ relationship to Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula of yore. (And a good Christian by his own reckoning.) I wondered about the timing of the story until I noticed the gothic script on Google’s search page and realized that yesterday was Bram Stoker’s 165th birthday. Well, it would have been, supposing that he has remained dead since 1912. Completely unrelated to this anniversary, I read Dracula again in September through October and realized just how religiously charged a story it is. The Church of Ireland, to which Stoker’s family belonged, was Anglican in name and identified with both Catholic and Protestant traditions. In Dracula the more Catholic side seems to predominate.
Prince Charles’ connection to Vlad Tepes suggests perhaps a deeper meaning. The short news clip I saw (I can’t recall which network it was on) noted that the connection is being promoted by Romanian tourist agencies. Nevertheless, Prince Charles appears in the material acknowledging his hereditary connection to Vlad III, and noting that Transylvania has much to teach us. (He goes on to explain that the people of Romania have a lot to teach other Europeans about sustainable practices.) I could not help but note the irony of a member of the royal family, however, inviting comparison with a character who came to be known as the drainer of other people’s blood. Taking that which by no rights belongs to them.
Perhaps it never occurs to those with great wealth that what they amass is absconded from others. In a world that holds to a social contract that values money—which is merely a symbol—for some to have excess means that others will have less than adequate amounts. I’ve always had trouble understanding such selfishness. Perhaps it was being raised in a Christian environment with siblings with whom I was expected to share. Maybe it was just a part of the sober assessment of the social injustice I began to notice when I was a teenager. Somehow I’ve never felt entitled to much, but I do wonder how others can justify taking more than they need while knowing that many others suffer from real want. It is a matter of degrees, I realize, and we all do it to some extent. I have never complained about taxes because I know that my eyes too may be blinded by the beguiling glitter of gold. When the very wealthy don’t pay taxes (not pointing any particular fingers here), they too, like Prince Charles, may claim to be true descendants of Dracula.