Prince Charles helps save Czech treasures

Rare documents, Foto: CTK

As the Czech Republic continues to repair the damage caused by last year's floods, an international working conference on the restoration of damaged archives and book collections is taking place in Prague this week. On Wednesday, the British Council in the Czech Republic will hand over vacuum drying machines for books and documents to the Czech National Technical Museum and the National Library. The machines were funded with financial contributions from, among others, the office of the Prince of Wales. At the working meeting, the director of the British Council in the Czech Republic, Paul Docherty, told Radio Prague how the British have assisted the Czech Republic in restoring its damaged cultural treasures.

"Well, of course there have been many aspects to the assistance given to the Czech Republic by many different organisations. There were collections arranged in London by the Czech Embassy, for example, which raised a great deal of money. The British Council felt that because we work and live here - and we're in the business of making long term relationships between our two countries - we felt we should do something. So we responded quickly to a request for help, a specific request which required a new technology, new equipment. But as a result of doing that, other people in the United Kingdom heard what we were doing, and our original 15,000 pounds led to a further 66,000 pounds being donated by individuals who wanted us to buy similar equipment. And that's the equipment that arrived in the Czech Republic just at the end of last week."

Rare documents,  photo: CTK
And one of those individuals includes Prince Charles, I gather?

"Indeed, indeed. Prince Charles was very generous, and as it happens I happened to meet him in Paris two weeks ago. I was at a British Council event there and he was there, and I was able to tell him personally that his contribution was much appreciated. And of course, as ever, he remembered the Czech Republic fondly. And as you know he's a great fan of Prague and the Czech Republic, and he was happy to help. He said to me, "Do let me know if I can do anything else," and so I think we should follow that up, don't you?"

I agree. And I suppose that that stems from the prince's particular interest in architecture as well?

"Yes it does. There is no question that he has a genuine interest in the architecture and the cultural heritage here in Prague and the Czech Republic. And I am sure that that is why he has chosen to do this."