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Luxury Prague Life magazine brings you a frank interview with the Czech politician Karel Schwarzenberg. We spoke with the prince about politics, marriage and his childhood.

Fast confession - Karel Schwarzenberg: He is a weekend grandfather to his grandchildren

Michaela Vraná
10.Oct 2017
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4 minutes

His full name is Karel Jan Nepomuk Josef Norbert Bedřich Antonín Vratislav Menas Prince of Schwarzenberg and he is a member of the Schwarzenberg family. His hereditary title is Prince Schwarzenberg, Duke of Krumlov, Count of Sulz and Landgrave in Klettgau. How did his parents raise him and who in his opinion was the best Czech president? He revealed all this and much more to us in our interview. 

How do you think the Czech people perceive the current Czech political situation?

They are swearing like troopers about it.

Do you think they are justified in this?

In part, yes. We have to admit that we are doing superbly from an economic point of view. Our country really is prospering. On the other hand, no political culture exists and people do feel that.

What do you think about our current Czech president?

I have struggled with that issue a lot in the past and still do to this very day. Unfortunately, he fulfilled the very worst of our expectations.

Luxusní vila na prodej, Dolní Měcholupy - 616m
Luxusní vila na prodej, Dolní Měcholupy - 616m, Praha 10

What do you think of Andrej Babiš?

I had better not say. Or, you know what … What should I say to you about a man who, in his capacity as minister of finance, distributed grants and according to the reports he has published, the Agrofert group received more in grants than it paid in tax. What should I think about a man like that.

Why do you think that so many people still support him? A lot of people are backing him. Why do you think that is?

People tend to succumb to a leader, a lothario. In Germany it was Hitler, we succumbed to the communists in the forties, now we have Babiš.

Some people probably see some personal charm in him … Who in your opinion was the best Czech president?

Václav Havel.

And the worst?

That would be a close-run competition. From the Czechoslovak ones, of course Kléma (Klement Gottwald – editor’s note), because he really was a murderer. He murdered his opponents and then his own companions. He really was terrible, by far the worst.

You have travelled a lot during your life and are always on the move. Where do you feel at home?

Here the most, but I do admit that I feel at home in various different places. I lived for a long time in Austria, in Styria and I also feel at home in Vienna. But I always wanted to return here and I managed to do so. I longed to do so for forty-one years and then it was a great miracle in my life … You don’t know what it means when you manage to do something like that after so many years. It really is a miracle for you.

How do you perceive the fact that you are an aristocrat?

As a matter of course. I was born that way and that is what I am. I don’t deny it. It goes without saying just like the fact that I have brown eyes, I don’t know, you know what I mean...

How would you describe your aristocratic family to me?

It cannot be claimed that the older line of the Schwarzenbergs was not Czech, they always supported Czech state rights, uncle Adolf donated considerable funds to wartime fortifications. He was forced to emigrate and even Jan Masaryk confirmed that he always supported the Czech government in exile in London. It must be emphasised that both lines were Czech.

Has it ever made things difficult for you when you told someone you are an aristocrat?

Sometimes it has, other times it has been to my benefit.

What do you think about other aristocrats?

I don’t think about other aristocrats, but about individual people. I can’t generalise. It depends who the person is.

What was your childhood like? Did you eat using golden cutlery?

I didn’t have golden cutlery as a child, but I do admit it was silver. At Orlík. Until I was twenty, while we were still at Orlík and in Čimelice. That ended after emigration.

How did your parents raise you – were they strict or lenient?

Strict, thank goodness.

Are you happy about that?

Yes, I am very grateful.

Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 9 - 176m
Prodej rodinného domu, Praha 9 - 176m, Praha 9

Did you also raise your children strictly?

Well, a little less strictly, because I was always travelling. I have to manage property in Styria, Germany and Vienna.... My wife took on that job – raising the children I mean.

You are already a grandfather. What sort of grandfather are you?

I am a grandfather who sees his grandchildren too little (laughs). They are in Austria and I am here. I really love them, but when we manage to get together it is a kind of celebration.

Do you spoil them?

I don’t think so.

You married your wife twice.


When you asked her to marry you the second time, did you get down on one knee as is the custom?

There was no romance in that act anymore.

Were both weddings magnificent affairs, or were they different in the way they were held?

The first was a proper wedding, the second was a registry office affair.

Where would you most like to live?

Why am I here? If I didn’t like it here best, I wouldn’t be living here (laughs).

I read that you speak six languages.

I in fact only know three – Czech, German and English. I understand a bit of French, but I only speak those three.

Which language do you like the best?

Czech of course. It is the language of my childhood. I grew up with Czech.

Having asked about those foreign languages you speak – which was the most difficult to learn?

I never had a talent for languages. I learned Russian, but I don’t remember much of that, which is a shame because Russian is a beautiful language and I unfortunately also don’t speak much French. I never learned French properly. My dad tried to teach me when I was a child, but then didn’t have time for it.

You are still working. Do you at all plan to retire and maybe start to fish or relax in some other way?

I would probably get bored.

Do you ever find any time to just sit and read?

I don’t have much time to relax, but when I do, I read. If I find time at the weekend, I visit my children and grandchildren.

Do you ever regret going into politics?

No, I have been in politics all my life. People have been talking about politics in my family since I was a child, it surrounded me. In fact, I grew up in politics.

Fast confession:

Pipe or beer?


Your favourite hobby?

Reading, now. Hunting in the past, but nowadays I prefer to read.

Communists or Greens?


What or who would you lay down your life for?

Probably for a lot of people. If I could save somebody’s life… I am an old man, I only have a few years ahead of me, so I would happily sacrifice that for somebody else.

Which characteristics must the ideal woman not lack?

Men are strange. They want the impossible. A sex bomb who is a good housewife, a faithful wife at the same time and if possible for her to not be more intelligent than them.

Do you look back over your life or do you only look ahead?

I am interested in history, but I don’t look back.

What do you not like about yourself?

Natural laziness and now stiffness which is caused by age.

Which politician do you most support?

Kalousek in the Czech Republic.

What is the best thing about not being the elected president?

You can go to the pub and have a few drinks with your friends. At the Castle you have to drink alone and that isn’t healthy.

Retirement or work?

I would get really bored if I retired.

The most beautiful actress past or present?

I don’t know who the best actress is, but I loved Audrey Hepburn in the past.

What do you spend most on?

Unfortunately on politics at the moment.

If you could turn back time, which year would you go back to and why?

I don’t want to go back, not at all. I am happy living in the time I live in now.

What makes you most happy?

Meeting reasonable people.
Question by the interviewee to the editor:

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