In total, the future King Charles III has visited Czechia and former Czechoslovakia five times. His first visit took place two years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Each time he has shown a keen interest in the environment, but his attention has also been drawn to technological innovation and scientific pursuits. These interests also took him to Brno and Masaryk University on several occasions.
“He devoted a lot of time and energy to travelling to other countries and regions. Building and developing strong relationships with individual countries is key for him. After all, he is one of the most travelled members of the Royal Family,” says Monika Brusenbauch Meislová, associate professor at the Department of International Relations and European Studies of the MU Faculty of Social Studies.
Specifically, Prince Charles has visited Brno three times. He first arrived in 1991 together with his then-wife, Princess Diana, and the couple were warmly welcomed by a packed Dominican Square. During his second visit in 2000, he laid one of the foundation stones of the Technology Park, and in 2010 he paid another visit to Masaryk University, as well as other places in Brno and the South Moravian Region. He was awarded the Great Gold Medal of Masaryk University for his pursuits in the areas of the environment and charity. Charles III thus joined former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein and former Slovak President Andrej Kiska as the eleventh recipient of the medal.
Meeting with MU students
At the Bohunice University Campus, Prince Charles met with a select group of students to discuss their projects. Olga Bohuslavová, who presented MU’s Antarctic research to the future monarch, has only positive memories of the event. “We were all quite nervous about the visit, but in retrospect, it seemed so foolish, because Prince Charles was relaxed and easy-going and he was very keen to make the meeting as informal as possible,” recalls Olga Bohuslavová, who now works at MU’s Institute of Computer Science as an open science specialist. The British Embassy also instructed the students about the informal nature of the meeting and told them to dress as they normally do for school. “About this – I remember one student who arrived in such old-fashioned slippers that it made me laugh,” says the scientist.
Olga Bohuslavová was given exactly three minutes to present her research at Mendel Polar Station in Antarctica to Prince Charles. “The Prince asked a lot of questions, it was very informal and a very pleasant conversation. It was funny when he looked for me in a group photo of the expedition’s science team where I was wearing a thick winter jacket and a hat, but he recognised me amongst the other polar explorers.”
The presentation of three MU research projects was followed by a debate with a wider student audience focusing on environmental issues. According to Bohuslavová, it was quite interesting but unfortunately too short – it ended just as it was warming up. The prince was also reportedly well-versed in Czech national environmental issues, such as coal mining, and took an active interest in the students’ research.
“I also remember his warm and firm grip and how he seemed to have a really big hand. Meeting him was a unique experience for which I am grateful,” concludes Bohuslavová.
International significance of the coronation
King Charles III’s coronation is an extraordinary historical moment not only for Britain but for the whole world. “The United Kingdom remains the only monarchy in Europe to maintain the tradition of a coronation ceremony. With hundreds of thousands of tourists – some estimates put the figure at three million – in London, the eyes of the world were fixed on London on Saturday. The coronation is like a beautiful fairy tale that fascinates and captivates people across continents,” says Monika Brusenbauch Meislová.
She believes that the fact that Charles III is a laureate of the Great Gold Medal of Masaryk University is very significant for bilateral relations between Czechia and Britain. “Relations between the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom have always been good, stable and predictable, and moments like this only solidify them. It should be added, of course, that this was an event of considerable importance to the King himself. Looking at the list of awards he has received as Prince – mostly for his contributions to the environment, organic farming, horticulture, combating climate change and architecture – only about five of them are from universities, which is not that many,” says the expert on international relations and the British Royal Family.
Charles III succeeded his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, when she died last September, making him the oldest monarch to ascend the throne in British history. He was 73 years old at the time of the Queen’s death. The coronation took place at Westminster Abbey and the King, who was crowned alongside his wife Queen Camilla, became the 40th monarch to be crowned at the site since 1066.