PM Fiala ready to represent Czechia at Queen’s funeral due to Zeman’s health

The prime minster will attend the Sept. 19 funeral only if the Czech Republic is asked to send a representative. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 12.09.2022 10:58:00 (updated on 12.09.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prime Minister Petr Fiala will represent the Czech Republic at the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II, President Miloš Zeman told radio station Frekvence 1. Fiala has agreed to attend the funeral, but it is not certain if the Czech Republic will be asked to send someone.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said on Saturday that a decision on the possible representation of the Czech Republic at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will only be made if the country receives an invitation to the funeral. Invitations will be sent this week.

The state funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II will take place in the Westminster Abbey in London on Sept. 19. She passed away Sept. 8 at the age of 96 after having reigned for 70 years.

“I asked Petr Fiala to attend the funeral for the simple reason that doctors have forbidden me to fly,” Zeman said. The 77-year-old president has been in poor health and spent 48 days in a hospital last autumn.

The Queen’s coffin will arrive in Westminster on Sept. 15, and for the next four days hundreds of thousands of people are expected to file past the coffin to pay respects. Senior royals are expected to hold a traditional vigil at some point. The day of the funeral will be a national holiday in Britain.

After the funeral, the Queen’s coffin will be taken to Windsor Castle, where there is a Royal Burial Ground called Frogmore, next to the mausoleum for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is seldom open to the public but can be viewed from its perimeter.

Zeman said he met Queen Elizabeth II several times, for the first time when President Václav Havel invited her to the Czech Republic. "The symbol of huge continuity of history is something that gives the queen an enormously influential position irrespective of her formal competences," he said.

The Queen visited Prague and Brno in March 1996 at the invitation of then-president Václav Havel. It was her only visit, as she had a policy of visiting cities only once.

This was the first official trip of a British monarch to the Czech lands, though King Edward VII had made informal visits to the spa town Mariánské Lázně numerous times between 1897 and 1907 when Bohemia was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There is a statue of Edward VII meeting Emperor Franz Joseph I in the spa town.

At the time of her death, Elizabeth II had been the longest-reigning sovereign in British history, the longest-serving female head of state in history. Her first son, formerly the Prince of Wales, has taken over as British monarch and will be called King Charles III. He is now 73 years old.

King Charles III visited Prague five times while he was Prince of Wales. Along with Havel, he founded the Prague Heritage Fund, which looks after historical buildings.

In tribute to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Prague’s Petřín Lookout Tower was lit in the colors of the British flag for three days. The public has also placed candles in front of the British Embassy in Malá Strana.

There are two condolence books that people can sign in Prague. One is at the British Embassy, and it can be signed daily between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The embassy did not state how long it will be available. In addition, an ecumenical prayer will take place on Sept. 15 at St. Vítus Cathedral at Prague Castle, and the British Ambassador will say a few wwords.

The main vestibule in Old Town Hall will open until Sept. 20 to allow the public to sign a condolence book on Mondays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on other days including weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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