Karel Schwarzenberg

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Karel Schwarzenberg

Karel Schwarzenberg 2019.jpg
Schwarzenberg in 2019
6th & 8th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
13 July 2010 10 July 2013
Prime Minister Petr Nečas
Preceded by Jan Kohout
Succeeded by Jan Kohout
In office
9 January 2007 8 May 2009
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek
Preceded by Alexandr Vondra
Succeeded by Jan Kohout
First Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
In office
13 July 2010 10 July 2013
Prime Minister Petr Nečas
Preceded by Vlasta Parkanová
Succeeded by Jan Fisher
Leader of TOP 09
In office
28 November 2009 29 November 2015
Preceded byInaugural holder
Succeeded by Miroslav Kalousek
Senator from Prague 6
In office
13 November 2004 29 May 2010
Preceded by Jan Ruml
Succeeded by Petr Bratský
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
Assumed office
29 May 2010
Personal details
Born (1937-12-10) 10 December 1937 (age 83)
Prague, Czechoslovakia
(now Czech Republic)
Citizenship Czech Republic, Switzerland
Political party ODA (1996–2007)
TOP 09 (2009–present)
Spouse(s)Therese Hardegg
Alma mater University of Vienna
University of Graz
University of Munich (all left prior Graduation [1] [2] )
Signature Karel Schwarzenberg Signature.png

Prince Karel Schwarzenberg (Czech pronunciation: [ˈʃvartsn̩bɛrk] , born 10 December 1937) is a Czech politician, former leader of the TOP 09 party and was its candidate for President of the Czech Republic in the 2013 election. Currently, he serves as a Member of the Chamber of Deputies (MP).


From July 1990 to July 1992 Schwarzenberg served as the chancellor (director of the presidential office) to Václav Havel, while he was president. He went on to be elected as Senator for the municipal district Prague 6 from 2004 to 2010 and to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic from 2007 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2013, originally as a non-partisan minister nominated by the Green Party. In May 2010, he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the newly founded pro-European centre-right party TOP 09, gaining the largest number of preference votes. He was candidate for President of the Czech Republic in the 2013 presidential election, and qualified for the second round, finishing as runner-up, with 45.19% of the votes. [3] [4] Schwarzenberg is noted for his pro-European views. [5]

Schwarzenberg has been the head of the House of Schwarzenberg, a formerly leading family of the Habsburg empire, since 1979. He is related to Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg, a statesman of the Austrian Empire. [6] From 1948 to 1990, he lived in Austria, where he was known as Karl Schwarzenberg, and was involved in politics for the Austrian People's Party and became a noted critic of human-rights violations in the eastern bloc, chairing the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. Following the fall of communism, he became a close adviser to Václav Havel and relocated to Prague.

He is married to Countess Therese von Hardegg (Therese Countess zu Hardegg auf Glatz und im Machlande) and they have three children, all of whom live in Austria. His full noble title and style is: His Serene Highness The 12th Prince of Schwarzenberg (First Majorat) and 7th Prince of Schwarzenberg (Second Majorat), Count of Sulz, Princely Landgrave in Klettgau, Duke of Krumlov (Czech: Karel Jan Nepomuk Josef Norbert Bedřich Antonín Vratislav Menas kníže ze Schwarzenbergu; German: Karl Johannes Nepomuk Josef Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Menas Fürst zu Schwarzenberg).[ citation needed ]

Background, education and personal life

The House of Schwarzenberg originates in Franconia, where the family still owns substantial property,[ citation needed ] but made Bohemia their primary seat in the 17th century, also maintaining residences in Vienna. The family had possessed fiefdoms in Bohemia as far back as the Middle Ages; it was one of the richest noble families of Bohemia and Austria-Hungary, and one of the largest land owners of Bohemia.

Karel Schwarzenberg is the eldest son of Prince Karel VI of Schwarzenberg of the junior line (Second Majorat of the House of Schwarzenberg), and Princess Antonie von Fürstenberg. He is the 1,322nd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece of Austria. [7] He is first cousin of Princess Ira and Prince Egon von Fürstenberg and second cousin of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. By tradition, he holds the style of Serene Highness (German: Durchlaucht).

Schwarzenberg was born in Prague and his family spoke both German and Czech. He is known today for his "slightly archaic and often earthy Czech." [3] Schwarzenberg and his parents had to leave the country after the Communist coup of 1948, and emigrated to Austria, with Swiss citizenship. He studied law and forestry at the universities of Vienna, Munich and Graz but left studies prior Graduation. [8] He has two sisters, Marie Eleonore von Bredow (born 1936) and Dr. Anna Maria Freiin von Haxthausen (born 1946), and one brother, Dr. rer. oec. Friedrich Prinz zu Schwarzenberg (born 1940).

On 22 April 1967, in Seefeld, Schwarzenberg married Countess Therese zu Hardegg [9] (b. Vienna, 17 February 1940). The marriage ended in divorce in 1988. The couple married for a second time on 25 July 2008. [10] [11] His wife spends most of her time in Vienna and does not speak Czech. [5] The marriage bore three children:[ citation needed ]

After the fall of the communist regime, Schwarzenberg returned to Prague in 1990, although he still occasionally visits Austria, where part of his family lives. He holds both Swiss and Czech citizenship. [13]

Schwarzenberg is the second Czech Patron of The English College in Prague, succeeding the founding Patron Vaclav Havel after the latter's death. He is joint patron with The Prince of Wales. [14]

Exile, human-rights activism and career in Austrian politics

In the 1960s, Schwarzenberg was active in the conservative Austrian People's Party and contributed to reforming the party before the 1966 legislative election. Voices inside the party considered him a possible candidate for the position of Foreign Minister of Austria, the position he would occupy in the Czech Republic decades later. [15]

He soon became active in the resistance against the communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia and became a prominent human-rights advocate, and a leading voice against the communist rule of his native country after the Prague Spring. From 1984 to 1991 he was chairman of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, and in 1986 he founded the Dokumentationszentrum zur Förderung der unabhängigen tschechoslowakischen Literatur in Scheinfeld, West Germany. In 1989, he accepted the European Human Rights Prize on behalf of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

Career in Czech politics

A long-time friend and close collaborator of Václav Havel, he served for two years as Havel's chancellor (from July 1990 to July 1992) during Havel's tenure as president.


He was elected as a Senator in the Czech Senate from the 6th District of Prague on 13 November 2004, having been nominated by the Freedom Union – Democratic Union (US-DEU) and Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) parties, and served until 29 May 2010. [16]

While a senator, he was expelled from Cuba in May 2005 (together with German MP Arnold Vaatz), where he was due to meet dissidents opposed to the Cuban President Fidel Castro. [17]

Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic

Between 9 January 2007 and 9 May 2009, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in Mirek Topolánek's second coalition government. His nomination by the Green Party caused a small controversy when President Václav Klaus stated that he had strong links to Austria and so would not be able to defend national interests. [18] [19] On 8 July 2008, he and the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an agreement on the United States's Missile shield program. [20]

In the first half of 2009, Schwarzenberg was also the Council President (Responsible national minister) of the European Union. Also in 2009, he and coalition colleague Miroslav Kalousek formed a new Czech political party TOP 09, which they led to success in the general elections of 2010, gaining 16% of the vote and representation in the Czech Parliament.

He left office as Foreign Minister on 8 May 2009. He became Foreign Minister once again on 13 July 2010; he held the post until 10 July 2013.

Candidate for President of the Czech Republic

On 11–12 January 2013, Schwarzenberg successfully took part in the first round of Czech presidential elections, the first popular vote for presidency of the country. With 23.40% of the total vote, he finished second behind former prime minister Miloš Zeman (24.21%). In the second-round run-off between the two men, held on 25–26 January 2013, Schwarzenberg received 45.19% of the vote and thus lost to Zeman.

Political positions

Position on communist crimes

In December 2010, Schwarzenberg, along with the foreign ministers of five other Central and Eastern European EU countries, called upon the European Commission to make "the approval, denial or belittling of communist crimes" an EU-wide criminal offence. Schwarzenberg said that the denial of the crimes of communism is analogous to denying the crimes of Nazism, which in many EU countries is a criminal offense, arguing that "there is a fundamental concern here that totalitarian systems be measured by the same standard." [21]

Condemnation of the Beneš decrees

In January 2013, while running for President of the Czech Republic, Schwarzenberg stated, referring to the Beneš decrees, that "what we committed in 1945 would today be considered a grave violation of human rights and the Czechoslovak government, along with President Beneš, would have found themselves in The Hague," referring to the International Criminal Court. [22] The decrees led to the expulsion of many Germans and Hungarians from Czechoslovakia by the Czechoslovak government of Edvard Beneš. [23]


Schwarzenberg expressed support for Israel's right to defend itself during the Gaza–Israel conflict. [24]

Titles, names and awards

Titles and names

Coat of arms of the House of Schwarzenberg: A raven gnawing at Turkish heads. Cesky Krumlov - Rathaus 1 Schwarzenberger Wappen.jpg
Coat of arms of the House of Schwarzenberg: A raven gnawing at Turkish heads.

A member of the high nobility of Bohemia, his full name is Karl Johannes Nepomuk Josef Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Mena Fürst zu Schwarzenberg in German and Karel Jan Nepomucký Josef Norbert Bedřich Antonín Vratislav Menas kníže ze Schwarzenberga in Czech. He is generally known as Karl zu Schwarzenberg in German and uses the Czech form of his first name, Karel, in Czech.

Karel Schwarzenberg is the current 12th Prince of Schwarzenberg, through his adoption by Heinrich Schwarzenberg, the brother of Joseph Schwarzenberg, the 11th Prince and last male member of the major Schwarzenberg line (First Majorat). [25] Although Heinrich died before his brother Joseph III (the 11th Prince), the adoption allowed Karel Schwarzenberg to succeed to the major Schwarzenberg line. Thus, in his person the minor line (Second Majorat), of which he is part by origin, has been united with the major line.

In the Czech Republic, using of noble predicates is prohibited by law No. 61/1918 Sb. In Austria, noble predicates have been illegal since 1918 (i.e. nearly 20 years before his birth). If Schwarzenberg were to use his titles, his name and style would be:


Schwarzenberg is also a regular attendant to the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg meetings.


See also


  1. Kubát, Čestmír (8 January 2013). "Dvojí občanství kandidátů na prezidenta ČR". britské listy (in Czech). Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. 1 2 Willoughby, Ian (13 December 2012). "Karel Schwarzenberg – a prince with his eye on the Castle". Radio Prague. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  4. "Milos Zeman scores Czech presidency". The Australian. 27 January 2013.
  5. 1 2 Bilefsky, Dan (24 January 2013). "Czech Prince, Schwarzenberg, Runs a Punk Campaign". New York Times .
  6. 1 2 Schwarzenberg talks election. The Prague Post (10 December 1937). Retrieved on 6 July 2011.
  7. Karl Johannes, Prinz zu Schwarzenberg. GeneAll.net. Retrieved on 6 July 2011.
  8. Karel Schwarzenberg | Government of the Czech Republic. Vlada.cz. Retrieved on 6 July 2011.
  9. Note: the full name in German, according to tradition, is Therese Gräfin zu Hardegg auf Glatz und im Machlande
  10. Royals Portal MAG; 2008, by Petra
  11. news.at. news.at (13 August 2008); retrieved 6 July 2011.
  12. IPromi – Fanseite über Promis / VIP / Stars / Prominenten Verzeichnis – Star Lexikon Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine . Ipromi.de. Retrieved on 6 July 2011.
  13. Velinger, Jan (18 January 2007). "Rozhovor pro časopis Instinkt". Instinkt. Retrieved 5 January 2009. 'Jak je to s vaším občanstvím – máte české a švýcarské?' 'Oboje od narození.' (In English: 'What about your citizenship – you have both Czech and Swiss ones?' 'I have both since I was born.')
  14. "Why us & how to apply". The English College in Prague. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  15. Lendvai, Paul (2007). Mein Österreich – 50 Jahre hinter den Kulissen der Macht (4th ed.). Ecowin Verlag. p. 89. ISBN   3-902404-46-9.
  16. "Karel Schwarzenberg", TOP 09 party website, retrieved 7 June 2013
  17. "EU politicians expelled from Cuba", BBC News, 20 May 2005, retrieved 16 October 2009
  18. Klaus, Václav (28 December 2006). "Senátor Schwarzenberg sedí na dvou židlích". euPortál (in Czech). Retrieved 5 January 2009. Asi se shodneme na tom, že každý náš ministr zahraničí musí jasně, ostře a z vlastního přesvědčení zastávat a hájit zájmy, postoje a priority České republiky. Obávám se však, že něco takového není možné – ale nijak ho za to nekritizuji – očekávat od člověka, který je s naší zemí (...) spojen pouze menší částí svého života. (In English: I think we agree that every Minister of Foreign Affairs of our country must clearly, strongly and by his own will defend interests, opinions and priorities of Czech Republic. However, I am afraid (but I'm not criticizing him) that we cannot expect this from a person who has been connected to our country only for a shorter period in his life (no matter this was not voluntary).
  19. Velinger, Jan (27 December 2006). "Who's afraid of Karel Schwarzenberg?". Český rozhlas 7. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  20. Bilefsky, Dan; Judy Dempsey (8 July 2008). "U.S. and Czech Republic sign agreement on missile shield". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  21. "Czech Foreign Minister: Denial of communist crimes like denial of Nazi crimes". Romea.cz. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  22. Day, Matthew (22 January 2013). "Czech election candidate questions post-war expulsion of Germans". The Telegraph. London.
  23. Ther, Philipp; Siljak, Ana (2001). Redrawing Nations: Ethnic Cleansing in East-Central Europe, 1944–1948. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 201ff. ISBN   0742510948.
  24. "Czechs, next EU president, defend Israeli strikes". Ynetnews.com. 30 December 2008.
  25. He is the fourth cousin twice removed of Heinrich Schwarzenberg, the brother of Joseph III, the 11th Prince of Schwarzenberg (Marek, Miroslav. "schwarzb/schwarzb3.html". genealogy.euweb.cz.[ self-published source ];[ better source needed ]Marek, Miroslav. "schwarzb/schwarzb5.html". genealogy.euweb.cz.[ self-published source ][ better source needed ]).
Karel Schwarzenberg
Cadet branch of the House of Seinsheim
Born: 10 December 1937
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Joseph III
Prince of Schwarzenberg (primogeniture)
Heir apparent:
Preceded by
Charles VI
Prince of Schwarzenberg (secundogeniture)
Heir apparent:
Assembly seats
Preceded by
Jan Ruml
from the 6th District of Prague

Succeeded by
Petr Bratský
Political offices
Preceded by
Alexandr Vondra
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Jan Kohout
Preceded by
Bernard Kouchner
President of the Council of the European Union
Preceded by
Jan Kohout
Minister of Foreign Affairs

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