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Prince Ernst August of Hanover is suing his own son of the same name for selling a castle that he had inherited to the German government for €1 ($1.20).
The father and son are feuding over Marienburg castle and the surrounding Calenburg estate, which are said to be run-down and in need of €27 million ($32.8 million) worth of renovations. This meant that upkeep for the 135-room Gothic creation in Lower Saxony made it a financial burden for the house of Hanover, rather than an asset.
Unhappy with his son’s “gross ingratitude,” Ernst August Sr. began his legal battle to win back the property and other assets at the end of 2020. He filed the case with Hanover Regional Court through a Berlin law firm.
According to the recently filed court document, the 66-year-old German prince, who is the estranged husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco, gifted his son, 37, a total of three properties between 2004-2007 “by way of anticipated succession.”
The court document alleges that Ernst August Jr. has gone “behind the back of his father” to seize control of the property and that his decision to sell the castle to the German authorities for a symbolic €1 “seriously violated [Ernst August Sr.’s] rights, legal entitlements, and interests.”
Prince Ernst August Sr. further alleges that his son “appropriated works of art and antiques” from the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel and from the Hanover Historical Museum. The artifacts, including “paintings, historical carriages, and a collection of sculptures,” have now been donated to Hanover’s state museum.
The Hanover royals are distant relatives of Queen Elizabeth II. Their lineage is linked to the Welfs, a European medieval dynasty also known by the title “the Guelphs.”
Prince Ernst August Jr. wants the assets to be enjoyed by the German public. He confirmed that the sale will ensure that the castle, which invites 200,000 visitors each year, is preserved for public access. All the arguments in this lawsuit “have already been invalidated out-of-court in the past,” he told German news agency DPA last week.
Germany’s federal parliament, Bundestag, has pledged €13.6 million ($16.5 million) into renovations for the monument and the young prince also confirmed: “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.”
It is not yet known when the case’s oral hearing will take place.
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