I had the honor of visiting Prince Schwarzenberg during his hospitalization at the university hospital on Charles Square. It started in September, the prince was lying down, sometimes sitting, reading newspapers, taking an interest in things, saying that it might not be serious, but he was suffering from poor blood clotting and some kind of infection. Otherwise, he didn’t complain at all, he actually lived in a very modest room, sometimes he even had fellow patients, but he never hinted that he should have any privileges. He highly praised the nurses and doctors: some of the nurses were Ukrainian and had no idea who it was. I said one thing, it’s like if you nursed in Ukraine, for example… we couldn’t think of any Ukrainian nobleman, so I said: a descendant of Bohdan Khmelnytsky… The good woman opened her eyes and almost screamed: oh my God, Bohdan Khmelnytsky!
I went to see him, I always bought plum compote on the way, the prince always thanked me very politely and without makeup: “inu, thank you very much, yes, plum compote is very good for me”. Of course I wasn’t the only one, I think the prince willingly accepted visitors as long as he could. His driver Michael Pastorek took very devoted care of him, and his family visited him. I know that a transfer to Vienna was considered, but I had the impression that the prince wanted to stay in Bohemia after all. Then, when his health began to obviously deteriorate, and it was already obvious in October, I had the feeling that he wished to die in Prague, Bohemia, where he was born and where he belonged. And that maybe it should also be a message to the Czechs.
At that time, I made several trips to Čimelice, Zvíkov and Varvažov, i.e. to the region of his childhood, from which he was expelled in 1948, and the prince always cursed me when I told him something about it: for example, that he was in Varvažov fishing pond and that they greet him… Really, that’s nice of them, I really like it there, it’s a beautiful region, so I’d like to see it again. Greet them there if possible. Then we said that when he gets better, we will go there. Maybe he believed it for a while.
But sometime during that time he said: “Everyone is allotted a certain time in this world, and I know that mine is over. Well, if I take my parents, they were already dead at my age. My father is seventy-five, it’s true, my mother lived to be eighty-four, I’m already past that. But it won’t be long now, I’ll be going there too.”
Indeed, it was obvious that his strength was waning. At the end of October, he was transferred to the intensive care unit and visitors were no longer allowed there. When he was to receive the Order of the White Lion on October 28, it was speculated whether he would come to the Castle, but it was clear that this was a utopia. I called him that day, he already sounded very exhausted, but he said that he might come to the Castle, but he didn’t know in what condition. November 4th is Karel’s holiday, I sent him an SMS wishing him lots of strength, and after a while I received a reply: Thank you very much.
In a few days he was flown to Vienna. His faithful Michal wrote to me on Friday that the condition is critical. On Sunday night, my cell phone rang and he told me in a sad voice: the prince had just died.