Europe’s largest gypsy ghetto is waiting for Karl again, but now as king –

The Plovdiv district of Stolipinovo in Bulgaria is once again ready to welcome the heir to the English throne, but this time as king. “If I had known what the protocol procedure was, I would have sent a letter of condolence for the loss of Queen Elizabeth,” Asen Karagyozov told Elitza Kandeva for

At the moment he heads the Foundation for Regional Development “Roma”, which hosted the visit to the hamlet in November 1998 during Prince Charles’ visit to Plovdiv. His father – the organization’s chairman and Roma leader Anton Karagyozov – died of covid last summer.

Let the coronation and mourning in Buckingham pass, and if the royal family wishes, let us visit them again, Asen Karagyozov said. There is a lot to talk about and about new projects of the association and about the problems in the neighborhood and even in the whole world.

In addition to the most distinguished guest, “Stolipinovo” also had its own Princess Diana for a short time. But only a few years. Today, the young lady, born at the beginning of the new century, is already called Eugenia and is expecting her third child in a month, and she was rechristened after her parents Zhivka and Valcho seriously offended Prince Charles.

The tragic story of Roma Cinderella, who never became queen, did not end with a wedding as in the fairy tale, but began with a wedding. During the visit of the current King of England – then Prince Charles – in November 1998 in Plovdiv, the program took him to Stolipinovo. And to see up close how the people live there and which customs the locals cultivate, the crown prince attended a Roma wedding.

After all the media coverage, the royal person left alive and well. How does he know what the sequel will be? A year later, Valcho wrote a letter to Charles with the help of the most widely read members of the “Roma” foundation, headed by its then-chairman, Anton Karagyozov.

Dear Prince Charles, my name is Valcho Atanasov. You probably don’t remember me because of your many dates around the world. I live in the poorest part of Plovdiv – Stolipinovo.

On November 7, 1998, you attended my wedding, which coincided with your visit to Bulgaria. After that a daughter was born to me, whom I named after your late Diana,” he read at the Royal House Official Correspondence Office. And from the envelope also fell a photo of the infant princess Stolypinov.

“She has the same eyes as the deceased,” boasted her father.

Valcho took the address from the “Internet”. The local Roma foundation helped him find the words. The father explained that he lives in a dilapidated community center with no sewerage or lighting. And made a fervent request:

Help me, I will be very grateful to you for the rest of my life, otherwise we are doomed.

At the time, the whole neighborhood laughed at his desire to correspond with the prince. “He wanted to help you, but he didn’t give anything,” Valcho’s neighbors teased. “Charles shouldn’t be your Soviet comrade,” the Bulgarians used to tell him.

Only a month later, however, a reply from England arrived in the ghetto. “The Prince thanked me very much for receiving a picture of Diana. He regrets that he cannot help because he has helped all over the world, but only to foundations, Valcho said at the time. This ended his household’s hopes of getting an apartment for Diana. And he lived in a city apartment on the eighth floor of Kraina Street, in a block where there is no elevator, all the windows in the stairwell are broken, and nobody remembers there ever being any light.

Diana took her first steps in a 3 by 4 meter room – the only one that was habitable. The rest is without wallpaper, with ripped out contacts.

Since the water doesn’t rise higher than the fifth floor, they went for a swim there. And to wash the baby’s clothes, mother Zhivka, then 23, packed a basket and went to her mother’s house on the next block, from where she came back with a full sink.

For some time Valcho was a security guard at the local branch of “Social Welfare”. However, he left and is better known in the neighborhood as a taxi driver.

I only need 300 marks for a new Tico and to fix my life

had long hoped for a translation by Buckingham. And since he still didn’t come, he sat down again to write a letter, but this time directly to Mrs Holloway, whose signature was next to Charles’s initial in the first reply from England. “She is a woman, she will be more moved,” read the father. “I am touched and fascinated by the humanity of His Excellency Prince Charles. But my joy is marred by Diana’s state of health,” wrote the most educated in the neighborhood in unison. And they waited again for an answer.

Then the Roma Foundation sent out a congratulatory letter on Prince Charles and Camilla’s wedding.

“We expected him to give us an apartment or an amount to stay forever,” Valcho says regretfully. And after receiving only kind words instead of help, he decided to end relations with the royal family once and for all. So Stolypinov became Diana Evgenia.

Valcho still lives in block 4006 in “Stolipinovo” and already drives a taxi legally, but today he didn’t fit into the “parking lot” at the end of “Landos” street. Locals claim his family is abroad. Evgenia is already 23 years old and married, and her younger brother is a 17-year-old teenager.

“It’s here, find a good man who works in commerce,” Valcho told “Maritsa”. She has two children aged 1 and 5 and is currently pregnant with her third child. It’s a girl, they’re expecting him next month.

And Valcho no longer expects anything from King Charles and earns his own money with his work.


Photo: Diana von Stolipinovo with her parents in December 2000 as the family exchanged letters with Buckingham Palace. / Author: Atanas Kanev

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