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Havel coffin taken to Prague Castle

Thousands of Czech citizens have joined Vaclav Havel's wife Dagmar, family members and friends in a procession to pay respects to the late president.

The coffin containing Mr Havel's body was transported from the Prague Crossroads, a former church which he turned into a cultural centre, to Prague Castle, the seat of the presidency, where it will be on display until Friday's state funeral.

Many of those who lined the streets greeted the black hearse with applause.

Thousands waited patiently for hours to pay tribute to the former leader, who died on Sunday aged 75, when his body went on show on Monday.

The government has declared three days of national mourning.

"He's a moral authority for me, an icon," said Jakub Sevcik, 35. "It's my last opportunity to say goodbye at the end."

The presidents of France and Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy and Christian Wulff, as well their counterparts and leaders from many other countries are expected to attend the funeral at the country's biggest and most famous church, St Vitus Cathedral.

An official memorial is planned for Mr Havel later on Wednesday at the castle.

His flag-draped coffin, carried on a historic carriage, was escorted by a guard of honour to the place where he spent more than 12 years as president.

The carriage, drawn by six black horses, is the one which bore the coffin of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia's first president after it was founded in 1918, during his funeral in 1937.

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