The funeral took place in Prague’s St Vitus Cathedral. Credit:

Czechs Mourn Former Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg

On Saturday, the Czech Republic said a final farewell to Karel Schwarzenberg, a former foreign minister, MP, senator, head of Presidential Office of Vaclav Havel, and member of one of Europe’s oldest noble families, who died aged 85 in Vienna on 12 November, as his funeral took place in Prague’s St Vitus Cathedral.

The Catholic ceremony was accompanied by state tributes. The funeral mass was celebrated by Archbishop of Prague Jan Graubner, the sermon was led by Tomas Halik, and a short funeral speech was delivered by President Petr Pavel. After the service, Schwarzenberg’s remains were transported from Prague Castle to the Orlik Castle and placed in a crypt in a close family circle.

The ceremony, which began at noon, was attended by the family and friends of the deceased and hundreds of invited guests, including President Pavel and his wife Eva, members of the government and both houses of parliament, and former President Milos Zeman.

The Czech and Slovak Presidents attended the funeral. Credit:

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova and representatives of the three ruling noble families of Monaco, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg also attended. The memorial service was also attended by representatives of domestic and European nobility, diplomats, people from the cultural community, representatives of important institutions and others.

Hundreds of people watched the ceremony in the cathedral on a large screen in Hradcany Square, others at home in a live television broadcast.

The organisation of the ceremony was guided by the wishes of the late politician and aristocrat. The service therefore included performances of the Czechoslovak anthem, the folk songs ‘Oh Son, Son’ and ‘At the Straznice Gate’, the St Wenceslas Chorale, the oldest Czech spiritual song ‘Hospodine, pomiluj ny’, the Latin hymn ‘Dies Irae’ (Day of Wrath) and the carol ‘Christ the Lord is Born’.

The coffin was draped in the blue and white Schwarzenberg flag; the orders of the White Lion and the Golden Fleece and the family coat of arms were displayed in front of the altar. The offerings were carried by Karel Schwarzenberg’s long-time closest associates Marcela Dvorakova, Michael Pastorek and Filip Stedry. The reading was given by his nephew Ferdinand.

Speeches were read by the mayor of Prague 1, Terezie Radomerska, who comes from the Sternberg family, and Schwarzenberg’s close associate and friend Miroslav Kalousek. Salesian priest Ladislav Heryan spoke and sang in the cathedral.

Initially, the organisers announced that his son Jan Schwarzenberg would give thanks at the end of the ceremony, but in the end, Cardinal Dominik Duka thanked the late politician for what he had done for his country.

The coffin was draped in the blue and white Schwarzenberg flag. Credit:

Schwarzenberg’s life reflects the turbulent history of the Czech Lands. His supporters commended his lifelong yet unspectacular service to his country, which he had to leave as a child after the communist coup, for 40 years, but also his insight, quirky humour and ability to bring together people of different beliefs, natures and backgrounds.

The Schwarzenbergs have a close relationship with St Vitus Cathedral, which houses a statue of the one-time Archbishop of Prague, Bedrich Schwarzenberg. The patron saint of the family is John of Nepomuk, whose silver tomb with a glass coffin lies on the right side of the cathedral.

In the Schwarzenberg Chapel, located in the cathedral, the altar features the coats of arms of the Schwarzenbergs and Furstenbergs, the parents of Karl Schwarzenberg, a stained glass window with a depiction of Jan Nepomucky and the Schwarzenberg coat of arms.

The coffin was escorted out of the cathedral after the service to a funeral march performed by the Castle Guard Music composed for Marshal Schwarzenberg, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813.

Czechs Mourn Former Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg
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