Ernesto Augusto de Hannover , the most famous and controversial prince of Germany lived his bitterest hour this Thursday in his long history of scandals and problems with alcohol when he had to face the Austrian justice to answer several charges that could have taken him three years out of jail in Austria. The 67-year-old aristocrat, however, has been sentenced to a prison term of ten months on probation by a judge of the Wels Regional Court.
The judge, when passing the sentence, indicated that there was a certainty that The prince, in a total state of intoxication, had attacked several police officers last summer and threatened a couple of caretakers who worked in his hunting lodge. The judge also issued an order practically declaring the famous prince persona non grata in Austria. Ernesto de Hannover, according to the ruling, must seek a residence other than his Auerbach hunting lodge in Grünau im Almtal – where he lived for several months and the incidents occurred – he cannot approach certain buildings of the Cumberland Foundation, the organization who manages his properties, cannot have any contact with the couple of caregivers who work for him, nor can he drink alcohol and must undergo psychotherapy.
The trial, which aroused unprecedented journalistic curiosity due to the many altercations carried out by Ernesto de Hannover , It began with a rare gesture of humility on the part of the aristocrat, but it also convinced the journalists who were present in the room that the Austrian justice makes exceptions to the universal principle that all people are equal before the law. According to the comments of several of them “some people are more equal than others”, since Ernesto Augusto de Hannover had a special treatment: he was allowed to arrive through the rear entrance to the court building and also to the courtroom, to avoid the harassment of the press who was waiting for him at the main entrance of the building.
At the beginning of the hearing the prince, who is still legally married to Princess Carolina of Monaco although they have been separated for more than a decade, apologized: “I accept responsibility, I am very sorry for what happened and I am willing to pay the damages, ”said the aristocrat in court. He then pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him by the Prosecutor's Office, which accused him of having attacked police officers and other people under a state of intoxication caused by the intake of alcohol and drugs. The prince was accused of resisting authority, serious injury, threats, and coercion.
After the prince's rare act of repentance, his lawyers devised a strategy aimed at reducing the punishment that had the expected success. The defense lawyers said that their client was in an exceptional situation after a cancer operation and due to a conflict with his son. “He felt abandoned. The fact of having been isolated from his family and having been abandoned after his cancer operation has taken a physical and psychological toll on him, ”said Otto Dietrich, one of the defense attorneys. Already before the trial it had become clear that Prince Ernesto Augusto wanted to hold his eldest son responsible for the scandals he starred in last summer. According to his lawyers, the first-born and current head of the Güelfa House would have instructed his father's employees to give him alcohol, probably knowing that he was prone to outbursts motivated by its ingestion.
The incidents that caused this conviction date back to last July, when the idyllic Austrian town of Grünau became on Wednesday the 15th the scene of a rare and violent incident starring Ernesto Augusto de Hannover . Shortly after one in the morning, the police received a call for help from the prince, who revealed that he was lying in a ditch and that third parties were trying to assassinate him.
Two police officers went to the designated location and found two people, a man and a woman, but there was no sign of Hannover. The guards eventually found the prince in his hunting lodge in Grünau, where he reacted with irritation and expelled both the officers and the couple accompanying them from his property. According to the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, the prince told police officers that the man had already tried to kill him three times by not giving him his medication. According to the police report in the newspaper's possession, Ernesto Augusto became increasingly aggressive and grabbed one of the two officers by the head. The policeman defended himself and gave him a blow of such caliber that he knocked him to the ground. It was then that the prince threatened the officers with a 12-inch knife sharpener. The officers took it from his hand and held him on the ground. After a few seconds, the officers allowed the prince to get back up and in doing so, the great-grandson of the last German emperor, punched an officer. As a result of this incident and by medical prescription, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward for a short period of time.
Ernesto Augusto de Hannover has had a bitter dispute with his eldest son for years over the inheritance of what is considered one of the oldest branches of the European nobility. These are various donations, including Marienburg Castle, which he had transferred to the crown prince in 2004 and is now demanding that they be returned to him for “grave ingratitude”. As the son refuses, the father officially filed a lawsuit with the Hannover Regional Court in February 2021, in which an amount of five million euros is in dispute.