German prince who is a distant cousin of the Queen sues his ‘ungrateful’ son for selling run-down family castle he’d inherited to the government for ONE EURO
- Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, is suing his son for ‘going behind his back’
- He transferred Marienburg and Calenburg estate to his heir in mid-2000s
- Two years ago, the 37-year-old Hanoverian announced he was selling the palace
- He sold it to the government for a nominal fee and his father wants it back
A German prince is suing his ‘ungrateful’ son for selling the family’s run-down castle he inherited to the government for one euro.
Prince Ernst August, head of the House of Hanover and a distant cousin of the Queen, accused his son of ‘going behind his back’ in court papers filed this week.
The 66-year-old transferred Marienburg castle and the neighbouring Calenburg estate to his son – also called Ernst August – in the mid-2000s.
The Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneberg, 37, then flogged the land and in 2018 announced that Marienburg would be sold to the government for a nominal fee.
This may have been more economic than benevolent: the castle required renovations estimated at more than £23 million and had been costing a fortune to keep open to 200,000 visitors each year.
Ernst August, prince of Hanover is suing his son – also called Ernst August – years after he transferred Marienburg castle (pictured) to him. The son has since sold it to the German government for a symbolic €1 due to the high upkeep costs
Ernst August, prince of Hanover (left) is suing his son – the younger Ernst August, the Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneberg – after his sold off the family’s property, art and artefacts
The younger Ernst said it marked an ‘historic turning point’ for the family and would help preserve the Gothic palace for the public.
The Bundestag – Germany’s federal parliament – has already voted in favour of contributing £12 million towards the renovations, while around 100 paintings and other artefacts from the castle have been handed to Hanover’s state museum.
These were worth a total of £2 million, while a further £5 million worth of treasures have been given to an art foundation.
In court papers filed in Hanover, Prince Ernst seeks to regain the properties and accuses his son of ‘gravely violating the rights, legal entitlements and interests.’
It further accuses the son of illegally appropriating some of the family’s paintings, sculptures and antique coaches from a library and a museum, The Times reported.
Prince Ernst also alleged that he has been cut off and left to live in an Austrian ‘forest lodge’ without financial help despite illness.
The younger Ernst said his father’s claims were without merit and was confident they would be dismissed.
‘All the arguments in this lawsuit have already been refuted in an out-of-court settlement,’ the duke told German newspaper Der Spiegel.
‘Against this background we are relaxed about any dispute in court.’
The Hanoverians trace their lineage to the Welfs, also known as the Guelphs, who were once one of the foremost medieval dynasties in Europe.
The ruled over large swathes of what became southern Germany and northern Italy, including Tuscany, Bavaria and Saxony.
Later, they were the electors and kings of Hanover and ruled Britain and Ireland from when George I ascended to the throne in 1714 to the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, at which point the personal union with the United Kingdom ended.
In 1866 they lost their last German royal title, but held on to a large portfolio of properties, with the 135-room Marienburg castle near Hanover, built in 1867, being the best-known property under their stewardship.
The castle was built between 1858 and 1867 as a birthday present by King George V of Hanover (reigned 1851–1866) to his wife, Marie of Saxe-Altenburg.
It has been likened to the famous Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, which was built two years later in 1869, which famously served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.