Germany’s favourite renegade royal, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, is back in the news thanks to a family feud over a fairytale castle.
The prince, estranged husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco, is suing his equally estranged son over Marienburg, a Gothic pile near Hanover.
The 66-year-old gave the castle to his son, Ernst August jnr, as a gift 15 years ago. Now, accusing his son of “gross ingratitude”, Ernst August snr wants to revoke the gift of Marienburg, a manor house and a third royal property.
Documents filed by the legal team of Ernst August snr, a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth, accuse his son of acting against his wishes to offer Marienburg Castle to the state of Lower Saxony as public property.
Marienburg, a Gothic pile near Hanover, is at the centre of the dispute. Photograph: Rust/ullstein bild via Getty Images
He also accuses his son of valuing artworks and antiques in the properties, owned by the family, far below his own value of about €5 million.
His 37-year-old son said the case had no merit and reheated arguments dismissed by courts in the past.
The deal to transfer ownership of Marienburg – allegedly motivated by high running and maintenance costs – was, Ernst August jnr said, legally “watertight”.
“There’s nothing that stands in the way of the long-term preservation of Marienburg as a central cultural monument of Lower Saxony, open to all,” he said to German news agency DPA.
Burning a hole
Marienburg is said to have burned a hole in the Hanover family finances, with renovations looming at a cost of €27 million.
Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, has already agreed to contribute €13.6 million of public money towards the renovation project.
The row is just the latest scandal to hit the head of the house of Hanover. Grateful German tabloids long ago dubbed the ageing patriarch variously “the party prince” and even “the brawling prince” over his jet-set lifestyle.
His greatest moment of notoriety came in 2000 when, visiting the Expo world fair in Hanover, the tired and emotional prince was photographed urinating on the Turkish Pavilion.
A regular of Germany’s gossip magazines, the prince fell out with his son over his choice of bride – Russian-born fashion designer Ekaterina Malysheva – and stayed away from their wedding in 2017.
The elder prince’s estranged wife, Princess Caroline, attended the nuptials.