Petr Pavel to be sworn in as Czechia’s new president

Petr Pavel

Czechia is set to get a new head of state. Retired general Petr Pavel, who won the presidential election two months ago, will be sworn into office on Thursday afternoon. Crowds of people could be seen gathering in front of Prague Castle already in the early morning hours to witness the inauguration ceremony, which takes place in many of the country’s most famous secular and religious sites.

Vladislavský Hall | Photo: © City of Prague

The inauguration of the Czech president is accompanied by several ceremonies, the central part of which is the ceremonial oath that Petr Pavel will take in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle. The large gothic hall has served as an important state venue for centuries and was the site for coronations of Bohemian kings before Czechia became a republic.

The oath takes place at 2pm and will be preceded by a private lunch session attended by both the incoming president and the outgoing head of state, Miloš Zeman, together with their wives.

After the near hour-long oath ceremony, Petr Pavel will step out of the balcony looking on to Prague Castle’s spacious third courtyard where he will greet members of the public.

Miloš Zeman | Photo: René Volfík,

At ten past three in the afternoon Petr Pavel will lay flowers in front of the statue of Czechoslovakia’s first president, T. G. Masaryk, on Hradčany square in front of the castle complex and will interact with the assembled crowd.

Both the courtyard and the square are expected to be packed with citizens hoping to witness this moment in the flesh, but the majority of the population will likely take advantage of the fact that the inauguration is being broadcast and reported on live by a wide range of media channels.

Prague Castle,  Spanish Hall | Photo: Ondřej Tomšů,  Radio Prague International

Selected guests will then drink a glass of wine with the president in the Spanish Hall, another extensive ceremonial space that one of the largest castles in the world possesses, whose origins date back to the time of Prague’s eccentric Emperor Rudolph II.

The whole inauguration ceremony will then come to a close at 6pm in Czechia’s largest and most important church – the Cathedral of Saint Vitus. The Archbishop of Prague, together with other assembled prelates representing the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Czechia, which incidentally also includes the country’s chief rabbi, will welcome the new president in his cathedral and then pray together within its most sacred space – the Chapel of Saint Wenceslas. The nation’s most sacred relic, the skull of Saint Wenceslas, the nation’s patron saint, will then be honoured and followed by another prayer for the country.

Cathedral of Saint Vitus | Photo: Barbora Němcová,  Radio Prague International

Aside from this religious component the cathedral will also serve as the venue for a special accompanying concert directed by one of Czechia’s most accomplished conductors, Jakub Hrůša, who will be leading the Prague Philharmonic Choir. They will perform the Josef Suk - Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale 'St. Wenceslas', which is based off one of the oldest Czech church hymns, as well as two pieces from the famous composer Antonín Dvořák’s, a part of the Saint Ludmila oratorio and Te Deum.

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