Aristocrat sues France for €350m over claim to Monaco throne
An aristocrat is suing France for €350m in damages for allegedly depriving his family of the throne of Monaco to stop it falling into the hands of a German in 1911.
Louis de Causans says that in the early 20th century, France threatened to annex the principality if it did not change its rules of succession.
Monaco complied, depriving Mr de Causans's branch of the family of his birthright and giving control to another offshoot of the Grimaldi family.
"Normally, in my milieu, we remain discreet and we don't like to stir up this sort of thing. But the truth must be established," said Mr de Causans, whose full name is Louis Jean Raymond Marie de Vincent de Causans. "It is a question of honour."
The dispute dates back to more than a century ago when Prince Louis II of Monaco had no official heir. This meant that the next in line for the throne of Monaco was his first cousin, Wilhelm, the Duke of Urach, a German nobleman.
"For France, on the brink of world war, the idea of a German ruling Monaco was simply unacceptable," said Jean-Marc Descoubes, Mr de Causans' lawyer.
The throne should then have passed to Mr de Causans's branch of the Grimaldi family, the aristocrat argued.
Instead, a law was passed in 1911 recognising Louis's illegitimate daughter, Charlotte, the daughter of Marie-Juliette Louvet, his cabaret singer lover, as his heir, making her part of the princely family.
Mr de Causans's lawyer says it is clear that the current rulers of Monaco are in position solely through the will of the French state. This forms the basis of his claim for the damages to which he believes his client is entitled. He points out that this is a mere fraction of the wealth of the Grimaldis who rule Monaco.
He has sent his claim to the French foreign ministry, which has two months to respond. If no satisfactory response is received within that time, the case is likely to go to court.
"Today, what I want is for the truth to come out and this injustice done to my family by France to be put right," said Mr de Causans. (© Daily Telegraph, London)