Prince suing son who sold family’s 130-room castle for £1 over bitter feud

A 150-year-old castle with over 130 rooms has been sold for 80p after a bitter feud among one of Germany's leading aristocratic families.

Marienburg Castle, a 135 room Gothic revival palace in Lower Saxony, was built in 1867. It’s one of the most prestigious properties owned by the wealthy Welf dynasty, keepers of the ancient title of the Electorate of Hanover and distant relatives of our own royal family.

The property was given by the controversial Prince Ernst August to his son, also called Ernst August, but it’s turned out the an expensive drain on the younger aristocrat’s finances – with German press reports estimating the cost of necessary renovations at around €27m (over £23,000,000).

Ernst August decided to sell the sprawling gothic castle to the German government, on the understanding that it would be restored and preserved as a public monument.

But Prince Ernst August has expressed total fury at the loss of the family’s ancestral home and has launched legal action to take back control of the family properties.

The 67-year-old-prince, often referred to in the German press as ‘The Party Prince’ as a result of his numerous tabloid-friendly drunken escapades, claims Ernst August Jnr has has “seriously violated the rights, legal interests and interests” of his father.

The court papers also claim that the prince, who has a reported net worth of some £180 million, now "lives sick and isolated in a forest in Austria and that his son does not support him despite several requests for help".

The family row has seen the prince publicly announce his opposition to his son’s wedding, telling German newspaper Handelsblatt “The decision was not easy for me because it concerns my son,” he told the newspaper.

“But I am constrained to preserve the interests of the House of Hanover and the property, including cultural property, which has been its property for centuries.”

The prince, a cousin of Her Majesty the Queen, says “I continue to hope that my son will eventually think of the best interests of our family and yield,” adding. “I am ready for discussion and reconciliation.”

His son maintains that the sale of the castle will go ahead as agreed: "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.

A court date has not been set for the lawsuit to be heard.

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