State funeral for Karel Schwarzenberg to take place on Saturday
As people pay their last respects to the late Karel Schwarzenberg, a member of the Czech nobility and one of the country’s most prominent post-1989 politicians, preparations are underway for his state funeral at Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral.
Thousands of Czechs have come to the Church of the Knights of Malta of Our Lady in Prague over the past few days to pay their respects to the late foreign minister, senator and presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg, who died on November 12 in Vienna at the age of 85.
The casket with his remains, wrapped in the blue and white Schwarzenberg flag, has been on display there since Wednesday. On Friday evening, it will be transported to St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle for the funeral mass due to start at noon on Saturday.
The event, open to invited guests only, will be attended by leading politicians, including Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová as well as diplomats and member of the European nobility. Among them will be Constantin Kinský, a relative of Karel Schwarzenberg, who paid this tribute to him:
“He was a man who had deep roots, who loved this country deeply. But he also knew that for this country to be successful, it had to not only understand its past, but it had to have an open mind, it had to have confidence in itself, and it had to have confidence in democratic institutions. So I think that is his legacy.”
The funeral mass for Karel Schwarzenberg, who would have been 86 on Sunday, will be celebrated by Prague Archbishop Jan Graubner, while the eulogy will be given by President Petr Pavel.
On the way from the altar, the procession with the coffin will stop at the cathedral’s Schwarzenberg Chapel. A bell will toll 34 times, as a reminder of the 34 years since the return of democracy.
Members of the public will be able to watch the liturgy live on television and on a large screen near the cathedral.
On leaving the Castle grounds, the carriage with the aristocrat’s remains will stop briefly in front of Schwarzenberg Palace on Hradčany Square.
It will pass by the Czernin Palace, where he served twice as foreign minister, and then drive to Orlík nad Vltavou castle for a private funeral for family and friends. In accordance with his wishes, Karel Schwarzenberg’s remains will be placed to rest in the family tomb in the castle park.
An informal farewell to the late politician, prepared by friends and former members of Schwarzenberg’s presidential campaign team, will take place on Saturday afternoon and evening in the Lucerna Palace, featuring a concert, a photo exhibition and film screenings.
Instead of flowers, Karel Schwarzenberg wanted his supporters to contribute to the defence of Ukraine or to the Order of Malta, of which he was a member and which is dedicated to charity. People have already contributed hundreds of thousands of crowns to the collection.