Queen Elizabeth II visited the Czech Republic in March 1996 at the invitation of Václav Havel. President Havel had already invited the Queen as President of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. Elizabeth II was the first monarch to visit the Czech Republic but not the first member of the British royal family. In 1991, Prince Charles and his wife Princess Diana had accepted President Havel’s invitation and visited the Czech Republic.
Mr Havel accompanied the Queen on Charles Bridge where she met local residents, and on her visit to the Moravian city of Brno.
President Havel and Queen Elizabeth exchanged prestigious orders. Václav Havel was decorated with the Order of the Bath, a British order of chivalry. He presented the Queen with the Order of the White Lion, the highest state order of the Czech Republic.
President Havel also introduced to the Queen representatives of the Czech Jazz Section, a civic non-profit association. They gave the Queen an original poster with a portrait of Winston Churchill and an address to the Czech and Slovak pilots fighting in the World War II. The slogan on the poster reads: “Čechoslováci! Hodina vašeho osvobození přijde!” (“Czechoslovaks! The hour of your liberation is approaching!”). The president also gave the Queen a glass vase made by Jiří Rückl’s glassworks in Nižbor. The vase was designed by Prof. Ludvika Smrčková in 1929 for Rückl’s grandfather. The same vase was presented to Václav Havel on his visit to Nižbor in 1993 by Jiří Rückl, and it was placed in his office at the Prague Castle.
A video of Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1996 is available here (in Czech).
Photographs from Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the Czech Republic are shown below.