Prince Andrew facing lawsuit over Swiss chalet

Legal proceedings have been launched in Switzerland against Britain's Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, a newspaper reported Thursday, over money they were said to still owe on a luxury chalet.

Prince Andrew facing lawsuit over Swiss chalet
A photo taken on May 7, 2020 shows the wooden chalet Helora, owned since 2014 by Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in the Alpine resort of Verbier, western Switzerla

Queen Elizabeth II's second son and Sarah, who remain close despite their 1996 divorce, bought the plush holiday home in the Verbier ski resort in southwest Switzerland in 2014 for 22 million Swiss francs ($22.5 million, 21 million euros).

The wooden chalet has seven bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool and a sauna, Le Temps newspaper reported.

However, the Duke and Duchess of York did not meet a December 31, 2019 deadline for paying off a chunk of that sum, Le Temps said.

In the deeds of sale, seen by the French-language daily, six million francs were due to be paid at the end of last year — now eight million francs with interest.

Four months on, the law firm Etude du Ritz has been instructed by the vendor to launch legal proceedings at the local prosecution office, Le Temps reported.

There was no immediate comment from Etude de Ritz when contacted by AFP.

Le Temps quoted a spokeswoman for the Yorks as saying: “There is a dispute between the two parties in this matter,” adding that the contractual details were “subject to a confidentiality agreement”.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told AFP: “This isn't something we would comment on.” The legal proceedings add to 60-year-old Andrew's woes.

The prince, who is eighth in line to the British throne, stepped back from all royal duties in November following a public outcry over his friendship with the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein,” he said in a statement.

Andrew emphatically denies any wrongdoing.

The duke was a naval helicopter pilot who saw action in the 1982 Falklands War between Britain and Argentina.

After his military career, he spent a decade as Britain's international trade envoy, until 2011. Andrew and Sarah married in 1986, split amicably in 1992 and divorced four years later.

However, they remained close, often living in the same house as they brought up their daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

In April, Sarah, 60, posted pictures on Instagram of her and Andrew packing cupcakes destined for a local hospice. It was a rare glimpse of the prince since he stepped down from royal duties in November.

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Italian king’s heir apologises for monarchy’s Holocaust role

A descendant of Italy's wartime King Victor Emmanuel III has apologised to the country's Jewish community for his ancestor's role in dictator Mussolini's racial laws and the Holocaust.

Italian king's heir apologises for monarchy's Holocaust role
An archival picture of the Italian royal family in 1938 . Photo: AFP

“I condemn the 1938 racial laws, all of whose weight I still feel on my shoulders to this day, and with me the whole royal house,” 48-year-old Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy said of his great-grandfather.

Victor Emmanuel III had put his signature to an “unacceptable document”, he added in a letter posted to Facebook, “officially apologising” in the name of his family.

Almost 8,000 Italian Jews were deported from the country and murdered in Nazi extermination camps, most of them in Auschwitz.

Giving a TV interview alongside the letter, Emanuele Filiberto also vaunted his family's positive role in Italian unification and granting of equal rights to Jews from 1848.

Several Italian royals were themselves deported to Nazi concentration camps, he recalled.

After the war, Victor Emmanuel III abdicated in May 1946 and died the following year in Egypt.

His son Humbert II reigned for only a month before leaving for Switzerland when Italians opted for a republican constitution in a referendum.

Parliament only ended a constitutional ban on the House of Savoy's male heirs returning to Italy in 2002, after Emanuele Filiberto and his father Vittorio Emanuele swore loyalty to the republic.

The two men gave up on compensation claims demanding 260 million euros for their family's exile and the return of the royal family's confiscated property after a public outcry.

Emanuele Filiberto is married to French actress Clotilde Courau.