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The Holy Crown of Hungary represents the values that make Hungarians great, Tamás Vargha, a state secretary of the defence ministry, told a ceremony marking the 45th anniversary of the return of the Holy Crown by the United States to Hungary, on Friday. The return of the Holy Crown was the “harbinger of change” during the communist era, Vargha told the ceremony in Budapest’s Inner City Parish Church, adding that Hungary was grateful “to our American friends for having protected the Holy Crown in a dignified manner and returned it to Hungary unharmed”. The state secretary noted that until 1527, no one in Hungary could be considered a lawful king unless they were crowned with the Holy Crown. Contenders to the throne therefore did whatever they had to in order to get the crown, he added. The Holy Crown embodies the idea of the Hungarian state, it is a symbol of Hungarian statehood and is the most valuable and an irreplaceable national asset, Vargha said. He noted that in the recent period Hungary’s government had “settled two debts to the Holy Crown”, namely that it had the crown moved from the Hungarian National Museum to the Parliament and established the Crown Guard.
David Pressman, the US ambassador to Hungary, said that in spite of confrontation between the two countries’ governments during the second world war, Hungarians had seen the US as a friend that could be entrusted with safeguarding the Holy Crown, one of their most important and most precious treasures. “This 1,000-year-old, priceless artefact made of gold and jewels was hidden away in a plain black satchel by brave, patriotic Hungarians. It was smuggled out of the country and passed from a Hungarian colonel to an American colonel,” the ambassador said. The United States took the protection of the Holy Crown “so seriously that we placed it in the famous vaults of Fort Knox”, he said. The Holy Crown was returned not to the Soviet Union or a “puppet regime”, but to the Hungarian people, Pressman said. The US wanted to give Hungary more than a crown, he said, adding that his country wanted to give back to Hungary the hope that the Holy Crown represented.
The Holy Crown was taken to the United States in 1945 and returned to Hungary by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance on January 6, 1978.