Aristocrat sues France for €351m over Monaco succession

Member of Grimaldi family claims ‘sleight of hand’ by French state robbed him of the throne

A French-born aristocrat is suing France for €351m (£313m) in damages, claiming it tricked his family out of inheriting the throne of Monaco in a blatant power grab.

Louis de Causans alleges a “sleight of hand” by the French state more than a century ago effectively falsified the line of succession, robbing him and his relatives of the throne by installing another branch of the Grimaldi family in their place. This action allowed France to gain control over the tiny Mediterranean principality he said.

De Causans' lawyer, Jean-Marc Descoubes, has said that the enormous sum of money being demanded was in line with the losses sustained by the aristocrat's family.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The succession dispute dates to the reign of Louis II of Monaco, who had no heirs. De Causans says the throne should have passed to a second branch of the Grimaldi family, from which he descends.

At the time, this would have meant Monaco being ruled by Guillaume II de Wurtemberg-Urach, a German. “For France, on the brink of the first world war, the prospect was unthinkable” says The Guardian.

Under pressure from Paris, Louis II adopted Charlotte Louise, the daughter of his lover Marie-Juliette Louvet, a cabaret singer and current ruler Prince Albert’s great-grandmother.

“I want the truth to come out and this injustice perpetrated by France on my family to be put right” the aristocrat told Le Parisien newspaper, claiming the move had prevented him from receiving any of the principality’s revenue.

“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.”

“It's easy to see why De Causans is upset,” says Business Insider. Monaco's current ruler Albert II is worth $1 billion. However, he stressed that he does not blame the prince for his qualm but rather the French state.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.