September 23

A Czech King?

Czech ArmsCzech President Vaclav Havel’s sister in law, Dagmar Havlova, not to be mistaken for the First Lady, who is also Dagmar, has come out with a rather surprising announcement. She would like the Czech Republic to become a monarchy, because what the country and its people really need is continuity and stability. Olga Szantova, broadcasting in the programme Current Affairs, on Radio Czech, for 14 July, 20 told the story.

The call for a monarchy really is surprising in this country, with its very strong inclinations to presidential rule, dating back to 1918, when Czechoslovakia was founded after the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in which the Czechs and Slovaks were oppressed and the members of the ruling dynasty were frequently the laughing stock of the Czechs. But Dagmar Havlova looks further back in history, to the 10th-century Czech ruler St.Wenceslas, whose tradition is very much alive. Her monarchist convictions, says Dagmar Havlova, are nothing new. At the age of 24, in 1975, she spent a year in Japan and was impressed by the imperial family’s positive influence on the nation’s strong traditions. Now, as the owner of Lucerna, a huge cultural centre just off Wenceslas Square , she has even organized a monarchist conference.

That centre, Lucerna, was one of the many reasons why Vaclav Havel’s sister-in-law made the headlines in the past. When the two Havel brothers were given back their family’s huge property in the post-1989 restitution, Ivan Havel gave his share of the Lucerna, a part of that property, to his wife, who had started off on a business career and had the time, and the interest, to manage the property.

Dagmar Havlova, the daughter of a very well-known Slovak physicist, never went back to her own career in that same profession after moving to Prague with her husband, Ivan Havel. Her ideas about running Lucerna brought her into conflict with the owner of its other half, Vaclav Havel, who consequently sold his share, which prompted his sister-in-law to file a lawsuit against him. Of course, there is gossip about the relations between the two Havel families, which, both sides say, is good, but with so little time to spare, they do not see much of each other. Whether that relationship has anything to do with Dagmar’s monarchist ideas is an open question. Dagmar Havlova says she could visualize her brother-in-law on the Czech throne.



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