An aristocrat is suing France for £314million in damages claiming his family was tricked out of inheriting Monaco’s throne more than a hundred years ago.
Count Louis de Causans, who lives in Paris, says France changed the succession rules early in the 20th Century amid fears the principality’s throne would fall in to the hands of a German.
The 44-year-old denies he is trying to dethrone his cousin, Monaco’s reigning Prince Albert II, head of the princely house of Grimaldi. Instead, he insists his actions are a matter of family honour aimed at addressing ‘trickery’ more than a century ago.
Mr de Causans, who was born in France, told Le Parisien newspaper:
‘I want the truth to come out and this injustice perpetrated by France on my family to be put right.’
‘In reality, my cousin Prince Albert acceded to the throne by a sleight of hand… France found a solution to get its hands on Monaco. Afterwards, they managed business on the Rock as they wished.’
The aristocrat, whose full name is Louis Jean Raymond Marie de Vincens de Causans, says he is a direct descendant of Honoré III, who ruled Monaco between 1733-1793.
But the row focuses on the early 20th Century, when Prince Louis II of Monaco, monarch between 1922 and 1949, had no official royal heir.
Under inheritance rules at the time, this meant that the bachelor was ineligible to reign in the sun-drenched tax haven.
The next in line to the throne at the time was Louis II’s cousin, Wilhelm, the Second Duke of Urach – a German nobleman from Mr de Causans’ branch of the family.
But Jean-Marc Descoubès, a lawyer for Mr de Causans, said that ‘it was quite simply unacceptable for a German to reign over Monaco then, on the eve of the First World War’.
Under French pressure in 1911, a law was passed that allowed Louis II to reign. The law change enabled him to adopt Charlotte Louise – the illegitimate daughter he had with his cabaret-singing lover Marie-Juliette Louvet. In doing so, he was then able to get round the succession problem.
According to the Guardian, Mr de Causans said a child ‘who had no connection to the royal family’ later succeeded to the throne.
Descoubès told the BBC:
‘There were secret meetings in Paris and Monaco between the French ambassador and Monaco authorities, they signed a secret pact. I have some evidence, and will give it to the court if the French government doesn’t want to pay.’
Mr de Causans insists that under the rules at the time, his branch of the Grimaldi family should have inherited the throne in the tiny Mediterranean principality.
‘I thought it was the Grimaldis’ fault, but then I found out it was the French state that caused this dramatic turnaround for us.’
The claim figure of €351m is the result of calculations made by accountants and lawyers based on Mr de Causans’s age and the Grimaldi fortune, Descoubès told the BBC.
Originally published at Daily Mail