A Parisian count claims his family are rightful heirs to Monaco and is suing France for $401 million in damages. Count Louis de Causans says the French state cheated his family out of the throne of Monaco. The count, full name Louis Jean Raymond Marie de Vincens de Causans, told Le Parisien the French state used ‘sleight of hand’ to rewrite Monaco's laws of succession during the reign of Louis II of Monaco (1922-44).
The cabaret singer
Count de Causans, aged 44 and living in Paris, says he is a direct descendant of Honoré III, who ruled the tiny Mediterranean principality in 1733-1793. He said Louis II had no heirs and the throne should have passed down to his branch of the Grimaldi family, making his ancestor Guillaume II de Wurtemberg-Urach the new ruler. Under pressure from Paris, Louis II adopted his illegitimate daughter Charlotte Louise, whose mother was a cabaret singer. A law, later deemed illegal, was passed in 1911 to secure her succession but she later renounced her right to the throne and Louis was succeeded in 1949 by her son as Rainier III. Legal objections to the 1911 adoption were overruled in 1918 when France forced Monaco to sign a treaty making it a semi-protectorate. If the “legitimate” succession had taken place, Monaco would now be ruled by the count’s uncle, the lawsuit claims.
The Prince without a kingdom
Monaco's current ruler Albert II, worth $1 billion, is not to blame the count says, explaining ‘I thought it was the Grimaldis' fault, but then I found out it was the French state that caused this dramatic turnaround for us.’ He says he is a prince without a kingdom, and wants ‘the truth to come out and this injustice perpetrated by France on my family to be put right.’ He claims that in a sleight of hand, ‘France found a solution to get its hands on Monaco. Afterwards, they managed business on the Rock as they wished.’ Count De Causans' lawyer Jean-Marc Descoubès told Le Parisien the sum of money being demanded was in line with the losses sustained by the aristocrat's family, saying ‘his fortune would be out of proportion with what it is today.’ Mr Descoubès said the state had until September 2 to respond, otherwise he will sue in court. Full interview in French available here.