The Crown Jewels :
The Crown Jewels are second only to Prague Castle as the Czechs’ most noted cultural treasure. The items are permanently kept under lock and key in a reinforced safe in the Crown Jewels chamber at St Vitus Cathedral. Seven keys together access the safe and each has an individual owner: the country’s President, the Prime Minister, the Prague Archbishop, the Chairman of the House of Deputies, the Chairman of the Senate, the Dean of the Metropolitan Chapter of St Vitus Cathedral and the Lord Mayor of Prague. All must gather together in order for anyone to access the jewels.
Other relics, such as the Coronation Cross and Coronation Sword, were also used in the coronation of Czech kings and are displayed together with the Crown Jewels. Technically they belong to St Vitus Cathedral.
The St Wenceslas Crown is wrought from extremely fine gold (21-22 carats) and adorned with 20 pearls and 96 precious stones. Charles IV himself had the crown made for his coronation in 1347. The Crown weighs a little under 2.5 kilos and is 19 centimetres in height. The apex of the Crown features a rare sapphire cameo.
Legend has it that anyone other than the crown's rightful owner who tries it on dies within one year. The story goes that the one of those who failed to heed the warning was Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich, said to have tried it on in November 1941. He died on 4 June 1942 after being wounded in an assassination attempt by Czech paratroopers.
The original silver sceptre and gold orb that were used in the coronation of Charles IV are now kept in Vienna and were replaced by a Royal Sceptre and Royal Orb commissioned by Ferdinand I in the years 1532–1534.
The sceptre is 67 centimetres in length and weighs 1013 grams. It is decorated with four sapphires, five spinels and sixty-two pearls.
The Royal Orb weighs 780 grams and is 22 centimetres tall. It consists of two flattened hemispheres linked by a decorative circular band and crowned with a fairly large cross. The circle under the cross bears the inscription DOMINE IN VIRTUTE TUA LETABITUR REX ET SUPER SALUTARE TUAM EXULTABIT (O Lord, in Thy strength the king will be glad and in Thy salvation how greatly he will rejoice).
The Coronation Cloak is made of luxurious silk known as “golden lily”. The design of the cloak is semi-circular, without sleeves, prolonged at the back to form a train. It is 312 cm wide and measures 236 cm in length. It is fully lined with ermine. It has been estimated that the cloak dates back to the early 17th century, from the reign of Ferdinand II. He was crowned Czech king in 1617.
Photo: Správa Pražského hradu