Twist in the Guelph soap: Father withdraws lawsuit against son

Hanover – A soap opera in the early evening program would not have made it any better. A father argues in court against his own son, it’s about works of art, antiques, land – and a fairytale castle. Specifically: The head of the Guelphs, Ernst August Prince of Hanover, reclaims the Marienburg south of Hanover from his son, Ernst August Hereditary Prince of Hanover – because of “gross ingratitude”. The oral hearing at the Hanover Regional Court is only postponed by several months, but then it comes. And then Princess Caroline of Monaco’s husband withdrew the lawsuit – shortly before the hearing on Thursday. The decision is to be announced on June 3rd.

Because the process is not over: Ernst August Senior has sold his claims to the Salzburg EAH BetriebsgmbH, whose lawsuit is being negotiated. However, the presiding judge of the competent civil chamber, Stefan Heuer, expressed legal concerns about this assignment: “As of today, we would dismiss the lawsuit,” he emphasized. Also, “no gross ingratitude given”.

Judge: Son was allowed to trespass on property on the Calenberg estate

Because that is exactly what it is about: the head of the Guelphs had demanded the return of the castle, the Calenberg estate in the municipality of Pattensen-Schulenburg and the princely house of Herrenhausen in Hanover. The 68-year-old based his claim on the revocation of a donation as a result of “gross ingratitude”, unjust enrichment and the loss of the business basis. The 68-year-old gave his son the property in 2004 and 2007 in anticipated succession.

But the judge stated in his legal assessment: The 38-year-old son of the Welf chief was allowed to sell land on the Calenberg estate – especially since the sales were “economically advantageous”. Damage to the assets of the House of Hanover was not ascertainable. Allegations that the hereditary prince did not take sufficient care of the seriously ill father, did not visit him at the bedside, are “far too general”. In view of the years of dispute, the 68-year-old “could hardly expect any more visits”. And: The Guelph boss is “no longer a child”.

The hereditary prince accused the father of making false claims

The lawyer for the company, Volker Römermann, countered: It was not possible to name Ernst August Prince of Hanover as a witness in his role as plaintiff – “now we will name him”. The court’s assessment that the sale of the Calenberg property had not caused any damage was “too easy”. The contracts are designed so that the head of the house in Hanover decides – and that is the 68-year-old. The decision is not up to the son, as in the case of Marienburg. Prof. Andreas Frieser, the Hereditary Prince’s lawyer, saw no solution in naming a witness to “unsubstantiated allegations”.

The hereditary prince explained in advance that the father’s lawsuit was “without substance and the allegations contained therein are false”. He welcomes the fact that his father is withdrawing his lawsuit – as well as the “insight into the fact that his lawsuit was hopeless,” said the 38-year-old now. But the dispute is much more than a family quarrel – it is about the future of Marienburg Castle. In 2019, the family hit the headlines because Ernst August junior wanted to sell the dilapidated castle to the public sector for one euro – against his father’s will.

Ernst August von Hanover demands return of a gift from his son.  Now the dispute actually ends up in court.

Ernst August reclaims the castle from his son: a dispute between the Guelph princes…


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Caroline of Monaco and Ernst August of Hanover have been married since 1999.

Marienburg: Is Ernst August complaining about his castle?


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“The Marienburg stands on a strong foundation”

But after the 68-year-old’s objection, the deal negotiated with the Lower Saxony state government fell through. Castle and inventory came into a foundation. According to the judge, the 38-year-old was protecting the assets of the House of Hanover, because the “renovation burden” of the castle was high at 24 million euros. Römermann emphasized that it was impossible to assume that the castle had no “material value” – that is, the castle could be sold for one euro. The father’s aim was to preserve the fortune for the coming centuries.

Whatever the case, the hereditary prince made it clear after the hearing: “With regard to the Marienburg Castle Foundation, the legal situation is clear and unambiguous anyway: Marienburg stands on a strong and future-proof foundation.” The foundation solution found with the state of Lower Saxony was “completed with legal certainty,” he emphasized. “The foundation itself can continue to concentrate with all its strength on securing the long-term preservation of the Marienburg as a central cultural monument in Lower Saxony, which remains open to the public.” And he looks forward to the verdict scheduled for June.

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