Thousands follow Václav Havel’s casket on final journey to Prague Castle
The atmosphere in the Czech capital was somber on Wednesday as thousands of mourners followed ex-president Václav Havel’s casket on his final journey through Prague. Along the entire route from Prague Crossroads in the Old Town over Charles Bridge and up to Prague Castle people lined the streets, some holding candles, others photographs of the late ex-president, paying their last respects to the man who more than twenty years ago led his country to freedom and democracy.
As the cortege reached Prague Castle, where flags were flying at half mast, it started to rain and as the coffin entered the castle gates the crowd began quietly applauding and jangling their keys in a final spontaneous tribute recollecting the protest gesture people made during the 1989 Velvet Revolution to signal the final bell on the communist regime.
“We are gathered here to honour the legacy of the country’s first post-communist president Václav Havel. His name will always symbolize the Velvet Revolution and Czechoslovakia’s return to freedom and democracy. We are gathered here to pay homage to a great statesman, a man so respected internationally that he became a symbol of the fight for democracy and human rights world-wide; a man who did more for the country’s prestige and position in the world than any other.”
Václav Havel’s body will now lie in state in Vladislav Hall until the funeral ceremony at St. Vitus Cathedral on Friday noon.