HSH Karl Johannes Nepomuk Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Menas, 12th and 7th Prince of Schwarzenberg died in a Vienna hospital on November 12, 2023. He was 85 years.
The prince was best known as Karel Schwarzenberg, a former Czech foreign minister and chancellor under President Vaclav Havel, who had been hospitalized in Prague since August, suffering from kidney and heart problems. Earlier this week, he had been flown to a clinic in Austria.
The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed the death. “It is with deep sadness and respect that we remember Karel Schwarzenberg, who left us today.” As a two-time foreign minister and Vaclav Havel’s chancellor, he shaped our foreign policy and always proved with his actions that he was a true democrat.”
He was born in Prague on December 10, 1937, the second child and eldest son of HSH Karl Friedrich Maria Joseph Johan Nepomuk Cyrill Method, 6th Prince of Schwarzenberg, and HSH Princess Antonie of Fürstenberg.
After the Communists took over Czechoslovakia in 1948, Karl and his family fled to Austria. He was born into a family of immense wealth. Czech and German were spoken at home, even after the family was living in Austria. He studied law and forestry in Austria and Germany but never finished his degree as he took over the family properties in Austria.
In 1967, Karl married Countess Therese zu Hardegg auf Glatz u. im Machlande. They had three children: HSH Prince Johannes (1967), HSH Princess Anna Caroline (1968), and HSH Prince Karl Philipp (1979), who was adopted by Austrian businessman Thomas Prinzhorn, and is known as Karl Philipp Prinzhorn. This is because Prinee Karl was not Karl Philipp's biological father.
The couple divorced in 1988 and remarried on July 15, 2008.)
He succeeded his father as the 7th Prince of Schwarzenberg in 1986, becoming the head of the junior line of the princely family. Prince Heinrich of Schwarzenberg (1903-1965) adopted him as the heir to the senior Princely line. Heinrich was heir to his older brother, Joseph, 11th Prince of Schwarzenberg (1900-1979) who never married. When Heinrich died, Prince Karl became the heir to Prince Joseph., bringing together the two branches of the Schwarzenberg family.
Czech playwright Vaclav Havel led the Velvet Revolution which led to democratic elections in Czechoslovakia. In December 1992, the dissolution of Czechoslovakia led to two independent nations, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prince Karl described Havel's election as the "happiest day of his life."
Titles cannot be used in the Czech Republic. The prince was known as Karel Schwarzenberg. He served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs on two separate occasions, from 2007-2009 and again from 2010-2013.
In 2013, he ran for the "largely ceremonial" position as Czech president but lost in a run-off vote to Milos Zeman.
He founded the Czechoslovak Documentation Center which was in his castle in Bavaria. The collection focused on "banned literature and other materials related to anti-totalitarian resistance and thinking during the communist regime," according to the Associated Press. The collection is now housed in the National Museum in Prague.
He succeeded Vaclav Havel as the second Czech Patron of the English College of Prague and was joint patron with King Charles III.
Prince Karl is survived by his widow, Princess Therese, his three children, six grandchildren, his two sisters, Princess Marie Eleonore, Frau von Bredow and Princess Anna, Baroness von Hasthaus, and numerous nieces and nephews including Prince Ferdinand, the son of the late Prince Friedrich (1940-2014.
The new Prince of Schwarzenberg is Karl's elder son, Hereditary Prince Johannes Nepomucenus Andreas Heinrich Joseph Karl Ferdinand Johannes Evangelist die Heiligen Drei Könige Achaz Michael Maria. His first marriage to Diana Orgovanyi-Hanstein ended in divorce in 2015. Since 2017, he has been married to Donna Francesca Riario Sforza. Both marriages are childless, and the new Prince's heir is his first cousin Prince Ferdinand Karl Friedrich Johan Nepomuk Jakob Alexius.
The late Prince was a citizen of Switzerland and the Czech Republic. He owned Schloss Schwarzenberg, in Scheinfeld, Bavaria, Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna as well as properties in Austria and the Czech Republic. Schloss Schwarzenberg has been a boarding school since 1968.
He was "known for his use of slightly archaic and often earthy Czech."
The Schwarzenberg Palace in Prague was also a family residence until 1948 when the Communists confiscated it. It is now an art gallery.