Not all royal weddings go off without a hitch.
Prince Ernst-August Jr. of Hanover — whose stepmother is Princess Caroline of Monaco — is set to wed Russian-born, Czech-raised Ekaterina Malysheva in a massive televised religious ceremony on Saturday, part of 10 days of planned festivities expected to draw dozens of young royals and aristocrats.
But the groom’s father has thrown a series wrench into things.
On Monday, Prince Ernst-August V, head of the now-deposed royal House of Hanover in Germany and brother-in-law to Monaco’s Prince Albert, announced formal opposition to the marriage based on a very simple premise: He wants his castles back, along with family property deeded over to his son between 2004-2006.
The 33-year old London-based investment banker and the 30-year old fashion designer, who have been together for eight years, were engaged on a family vacation in Greece last summer. The bride, who designs skintight lamé catsuits, has opted for a traditional wedding route, and even her choice of a Sandra Mansour gown has been publicized for months.
Ernst Sr., who is still married to Caroline despite the couple’s longtime separation and his numerous scandals, told German newspaper Handelsblatt he opposes the marriage and is motivated by his desire to preserve family property, especially lands in Lower Saxony.
“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.” Through his lawyers, the twice-married, 63-year-old noble — who is cousin to Queen Elizabeth — has asked his son to return property passed over a decade ago when he arranged his own tax matters. At the time, Ernst-August’s wealth was estimated as high as $250 million; estimates valued the property as worth in excess of $100 million.
“I continue to hope that my son will eventually think of the best interests of our family and yield,” he said. “I am ready for discussion and reconciliation.”
Curiously, opposing a marriage seems a Hanoverian family trait. Ernst-August Sr.’s own father (Ernst-August IV) opposed his son’s marriage to first wife Chantal, a Swiss commoner.
While casting high drama over the nuptials — and potentially causing a split in the family line — Ernst-August Sr.’s opposition isn’t expected to interrupt this weekend’s parade.
Royal watchers expect the groom’s half-sister, 16-year old Princess Alexandra of Hanover, the daughter of Princess Caroline, to be prominent among attendees, which should also include younger members of the Monégasque royals and aristocratic houses that enjoy close friendly ties with both Ernst-August Jr. and his younger brother, Christian, 31.