Czechia will inaugurate a new president this week: Here's how and where to watch

The public is invited to view the inauguration but the Castle says space is limited. Here's what you need to know about this historic event. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.03.2023 14:00:00 (updated on 07.03.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czechia will inaugurate a new president on March 9, with ceremonial events taking place at Prague Castle, the seat of the Presidential Office.

Outgoing President Miloš Zeman will end his second term at midnight on March 8 to 9 with the ceremonial lowering of the presidential standard, accompanied by the national anthem, “Kde domov můj?”

The Castle's main entry, the Gate of Titans, will be closed to signal that the post is empty until the new president, Petr Pavel, is sworn in at 2 p.m. on March 9 in the presence of representatives of the Senate, Chamber of Deputies, the government, and other dignitaries. The gate will then re-open, according to ČTK.

Before taking the oath, Pavel and his wife, Eva, will have lunch with outgoing president Zeman and his wife, Ivana, in a room that was part of Masaryk's representative apartment.

The public can watch the inauguration on screens at Hradčanské náměstí or from the third courtyard in Prague Castle but are encouraged to come early as space is limited. People who want to go to Prague Castle will have to pass through standard security checks, and some areas of the Castle will have restricted access.

Pavel will take his oath of office in the Vladislav Hall of the Old Royal Palace in front of about 800 politicians, dignitaries, and guests. Until then, the powers of the head of state will be shared among Prime Minister Petar Fiala, Senate President Miloš Vystrčil, and Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Markéta Pekarová Adamová.

Pavel’s arrival at Vladislav Hall will be accompanied by fanfare including part of Antonín Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, and various honor guards.

Pekarová Adamová will invite Pavel to the stage and Vystrčil will administer the oath to Pavel, who will place his hand on the constitution, recite it, and shake Vystrčil's hand. Pavel will also use a special pen to sign a document with the text of the oath.

Greetings from the balcony

After the pledge, the anthem will be played again, and soldiers will fire 21 cannon salvos from Petřín. The presidential standard will again be hoisted over Prague Castle. Pavel will then make a speech and leave Vladislav Hall to more fanfare.

Statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk at Prague Castle. Photo: Raymond Johnston
Statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk at Prague Castle. Photo: Raymond Johnston

He will greet the public from the balcony in the third courtyard, then go to the first courtyard, where Chief of the General Staff Karel Řehka will give him a report. He and his wife will then pass through the reopened Gate of Titans, to the sound of fanfare, and go to place a flower at the statue of the first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.

Pavel will then greet some fans outside the Castle gate, and then go to the Spanish Hall to meet with 2,500 invited guests. This will be followed by a performance by members of the former group Spirituál kvintet.

The last part of the festive program is a prayer in the Chapel of St. Wenceslas in St. Vitus’ Cathedral and a concert by the Prague Philharmonic in the cathedral nave. Ceremonial events should end around 6 p.m.  

Pavel hasn't decided where he will live

Pavel's spokeswoman Markéta Řeháková said that Pavel and his team will stay in their current offices in the Hrzánský Palace probably until late March. The transfer to Prague Castle will be decided based on the results of the security checks.

Pavel has not yet decided if he will live at the Castle or elsewhere. His spokeswoman has said he would prefer to stay in his current place of residence in Černouček in the Ústí nad Labem region. Pavel will only see the place where he could live at the Castle after the inauguration.

The inauguration will also be broadcast on all major domestic television channels on March 9. Czech Television will start its 5:59 a.m. and end at midnight, TV Nova, CNN Prima news, and ČT24 will also offer coverage.

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