Like a state visit: Brazil welcomes Kaiserherz with the highest honours

200 years ago, Dom Pedro I declared Brazil's independence from Portugal.

Like a state visit: Brazil welcomes Kaiserherz with the highest honours

200 years ago, Dom Pedro I declared Brazil's independence from Portugal. In the South American country, the monarch is therefore a national hero. The arrival of his embalmed heart in Brasília is correspondingly pompous.

With great pomp and military honors, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro received the embalmed heart of the first Emperor of Brazil. The 187-year-old remains of Dom Pedro I returned to Brazil on loan to mark the 200th anniversary of independence from Portugal. Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle ceremoniously accepted the nine-kilogram golden urn in the presidential palace in the capital Brasília.

The arrival of the heart preserved in formaldehyde was celebrated like a state visit: Air Force planes drew a heart out of contrails in the sky over the capital, soldiers in historical costumes honored the remains of the emperor.

"Two countries, united by history, united by heart," said Bolsonaro during the ceremony in front of the presidential palace. "200 years of independence and before us an eternity of freedom. God, fatherland, family. Long live Portugal, long live Brazil." The heart will be on display at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters over the next few days before returning to Porto on September 8th.

Dom Pedro I (1798-1834) was the first Emperor of Brazil from 1822 to 1831. In 1807, the Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil with the then nine-year-old boy from Napoleon's troops. When Pedro's father, João VI, returned to Lisbon in 1821, he handed over the dominion of Brazil to his son.

On September 7, 1822, he declared Brazil's independence and founded an empire. Nine years later he abdicated and returned to Portugal, where he died of tuberculosis three years later. Since then, his heart has been kept in a glass case with five keys in the Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa in Porto, Portugal. His other remains were transferred to Brazil in 1972 and buried at the Independence Monument in São Paulo.

Not all Brazilians are enthusiastic about the independence celebrations. Critics accuse the right-wing head of state of using them with a view to the presidential election in October and of wanting to stir up nationalism.

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