Stranger than fiction

‘Party prince’ sues son over €1 sale of German castle

Ernst August of Hanover has launched legal bid to regain control of ancestral seat from state

The head of one of Germany’s most illustrious family dynasties has launched a legal bid to reclaim a German castle that his “ungrateful” son wants to hand over to the government.

The Welfs were “once among the foremost medieval dynasties in Europe” and have retained a “substantial portfolio of properties”, including the 135-room Marienburg Castle near Hanover, The Times reports.

Built in 1867, this castle is now at the heart of the dispute between family patriarch Prince Ernst August of Hanover - a distant cousin of the Queen - and his son, also Ernst August, the Duke of Braunschweig and Luneberg.

The ancestral seat and two other properties were transferred to the younger Ernst August in the mid-2000s by his father, who is the estranged husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco and who has been nicknamed “the party prince” over his “jet-set lifestyle and drunken escapades”, says The Local.

In 2018, however, the duke announced that he was selling the castle to the government for a symbolic €1 - a decision made “partly because of the huge costs of maintaining the mid-19th century Gothic-style building”, according to the news site.

Although the castle attracts around 200,000 tourists every year, the estimated bill for badly needed renovations totals around €27m (£23.3m).

The Bundestag has voted to contribute €13.6m towards the cost of the building work, and around 100 paintings and other artefacts from the castle have been passed to Hanover’s state museum.

But Ernst August senior is refusing to accept the handover deal, negotiated with the regional authorities of Lower Saxony.

The state court in Hanover this week announced that he has filed a lawsuit to try to to regain the castle and other properties from his son, who is accused of “base ingratitude” and “gravely violating the rights, legal entitlements and interests” of the prince.

The legal battle is the latest in a series of squabbles between the two men. The hostilities have been heightened since Ernst August senior declined to give his official consent to his son’s 2017 marriage to Russian-born fashion designer Ekaterina Malysheva and shunned the wedding. 

The younger man remains defiant in the face of the latest row, insisting that deal struck to transfer ownership of Marienburg Castle was “legally secure”.

“All the arguments in this lawsuit have already been refuted in an out-of-court settlement, he told Der Spiegel. “Against this background, we are relaxed about any dispute in court.” 

Recommended

Is the government deliberately breaking FOI rules?
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi
Today’s big question

Is the government deliberately breaking FOI rules?

Why England is dropping isolation for EU and US tourists
Border Force staff
Behind the scenes

Why England is dropping isolation for EU and US tourists

Infection rise prompts European crackdown on vaccine refuseniks
Anti-vaccination sign at protest
Getting to grips with . . .

Infection rise prompts European crackdown on vaccine refuseniks

Germany floods: what led to this ‘once-in-a-century’ disaster?
A destroyed railway bridge
In Brief

Germany floods: what led to this ‘once-in-a-century’ disaster?

Popular articles

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays
Boris Johnson receives his second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
Getting to grips with . . .

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns
Flooding in Florida after Hurricane Irma hit in 2017
Why we’re talking about . . .

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns

What next as homes raided in search for Hancock affair whistle-blower?
Matt Hancock leaving No. 10 with Gina Coladangelo in May 2020
The latest on . . .

What next as homes raided in search for Hancock affair whistle-blower?

The Week Footer Banner