Hřib wants to display the crown jewels this year

Petr Horník

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) would like to make the Czech Crown Jewels available to the public again. On social media, he cited the fact that four years have passed since they were last displayed.

Hřib was present at the unlocking of the crown chamber in the St Wenceslas Chapel of St. Wenceslas Cathedral after his election as mayor in 2018. Still, his mandate ends this year, and he is defending the post in the polls.

He said it was a pity that people could not see the symbols of Czech statehood, which had incalculable value. “Therefore, as one of the seven keys, I propose to display the jewels. This year. Our protocol department is already trying to arrange a possible meeting with the Castle,” Hřib wrote.

The seven keyholders

The crown jewels served as badges of power for Czech kings. The set includes the St. Wenceslas crown, the royal scepter, the royal apple, leather cases for them, a cushion under the crown, and the coronation cloak with accessories. The St. Wenceslas Crown was made in 1346 by Charles IV for his coronation as King of Bohemia. The other items are more recent. The jewels are in the crown chamber in the unlocked vault with duplicate keys.

The tradition of the seven keys originated after the jewels were returned from Vienna to Prague in 1791 at the request of the Czech Estates. The keys are held by seven representatives of the state, the city, and the church—the president, the prime minister, the presidents of both chambers of parliament, the mayor of Prague, the archbishop of Prague, and the dean of the St. Vitus Chapter. Since 2010, they have also formed the Honorary Council of the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Vojtěch, which should agree on a concrete step.

Tradition dictates that the jewels should only be displayed on Czech territory and only on special occasions. According to the Prague Castle website, people could see the St. Wenceslas crown, the royal apple, the wand, and the coronation cloak only nine times in the 20th century.

In the 21st century, the jewels have been exhibited five times, always in the Old Royal Palace of Prague Castle, Vladislav Hall, and Charles Hall. The occasion was the accession of Presidents Václav Klaus and Miloš Zeman and the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia.