Father against son, a dispute over a fairytale castle and a lawsuit: a court has now dismissed the lawsuit against Ernst August Hereditary Prince of Hanover and ended the Guelph soap about the Marienburg. At least for now.

A long-standing feud is ended with dry words – and the lawsuit in the dispute over the Marienburg near Hanover is dismissed.

The presiding judge of the responsible civil chamber at the district court in Hanover, Stefan Heuer, briefly read the decision on Friday, then he looked up. “That’s it,” he said dryly. Before that, he noted that none of the lawyers had appeared. The dispute over the fairytale castle in Lower Saxony ended so simply, a dispute within the noble family of the Guelphs – at least for the time being. Because the judgment is not yet final, an appeal can be lodged within one month after the judgment was served.

Accusation: “gross ingratitude”

What was it about? The head of the Guelphs, Ernst August Prince of Hanover, had reclaimed the Marienburg from his son Ernst August Hereditary Prince of Hanover – and sued. In addition to the castle, the 68-year-old demanded the return of the Calenberg estate in the Pattensen-Schulenburg community and the Herrenhausen princely house in Hanover. He based his claim on the revocation of a donation as a result of “gross ingratitude”, unjust enrichment and the loss of the business basis. He had given the property to his son in 2004 and 2007 in anticipated succession.

Shortly before the oral hearing in March, Princess Caroline of Monaco’s husband withdrew the lawsuit, having sold the claims to the Salzburg EAH BetriebsgmbH. Their simultaneous lawsuit was heard. After the verdict was announced, Ernst August junior said: “The dismissal of the lawsuit by the Hanover Regional Court is no surprise to me. I was convinced from the start that the proceedings would show that the lawsuit had no legal basis and was hopeless. And that’s how it happened.” The allegation of gross ingratitude is without substance, as is the assertion that he did not become the owner of the family fortune.

After the hearing, the hereditary prince gave a positive assessment of the fact that his father had withdrawn the lawsuit: “I welcome his decision and the insight into the fact that his lawsuit was futile.”

The Chamber obviously judged similarly. The EAH BetriebsgmbH has no claim to the Marienburg, the princely houses or art treasures, said district court spokeswoman Annika Osterloh on the verdict. This applies if only because the assignment of the claims is “ineffective for legal reasons”. There is also no right to reassignment because of “gross ingratitude” – the Chamber could not find such a thing. That would require serious misconduct. The transfer of the castle to a foundation is not such a misconduct, especially as it served to preserve the family fortune, she said.

Foundation set up

Because the dispute is about much more than a family quarrel. It’s 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. At the time, the young prince repeatedly emphasized that he did not have enough cash reserves for the renovation. 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.

After the verdict, Ernst August junior emphasized that he was happy for the Marienburg Castle Foundation “that this secondary theater of war no longer existed”. It has been shown once again that there can no longer be any doubts about his justification for bringing the castle into the foundation: “The foundation has been established with legal certainty, with the result that the Marienburg Castle has been preserved as a central cultural monument in Lower Saxony and is accessible to the general public permanently accessible.”

And how does the EAH BetriebsgmbH react to the verdict? Their lawyer, Volker Römermann, said he would not speak to his client about the verdict until next week. And he will then decide whether to appeal.