PRAGUE – Thousands of people have accompanied the coffin of late Czech leader Vaclav Havel en route to Prague Castle where he will lie in state, BBC informs.
The procession marks the start of three official days of mourning for Havel, who died on Sunday aged 75.
Many applauded as the hearse carrying the dissident playwright, who led the 1989 overthrow of communism, passed through Prague’s historic centre.
A state funeral for the first Czech president is to take place on Friday.
Havel’s coffin was carried in a hearse, followed by members of his family and an estimated 10,000 people, many dressed in black.
The procession through the heart of the medieval Old Town followed what is known as the Royal Route – used by kings and emperors for centuries.
At the barracks of the Castle Guard, the coffin was draped in the Czech flag and placed on a gun carriage drawn by six horses accompanied by soldiers in ceremonial uniform for the short journey to Prague Castle.
It now lies inside the 15th-century Vladislav Hall.
Friday’s funeral, at St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, will be the Czech Republic’s first state funeral since independence and is expected to be attended by dignitaries from around the world.
Heads of state or government from France, Germany, Israel and Austria and leaders from across eastern Europe, including Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania are also expected to attend.
Vaclav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia in 1989 after the fall of communism. When Slovakia split in 1993, he remained Czech leader until 2003.Having suffered from respiratory problems for many years, he died on Sunday at his country home in Hradecek, north-east of Prague, where he was being looked after by his wife Dagmar Havlova.