Count's `fortune' a pair of slippers leaves heirs little but memories

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The Independent Online
THE HEIRS of the Count of Paris, last pretender to the throne of France, who died last month, have been horrified to discover the once vast fortunes of the French royal house have mysteriously vanished.

With the exception of a flat near Paris, a bungalow and a few scraps of woodland, only "six handkerchiefs and a pair of slippers" can be found, say the lawyers employed by the count's family. "Even the light-sockets had been removed."

A long and messy legal battle looms between the count's 11 children and his mistress, Monique Freise, who was his companion for his last 24 years. In a 17-line handwritten will, five weeks before his death at 91, the count left all his possessions to his wife, Princess Isabelle d'Orleans-Bragance, without specifying what he owned. There was no mention in the will of Ms Freise, 78, a former nurse and governess.

From 1988 onwards, it was known the count - Son Altesse Royale Monseigneur le Prince Henri Robert Ferdinand Marie Louis-Philippe d'Orleans - had been steadily selling off the royal patronage, including several properties and Marie- Antoinette's jewellery, raising more than pounds 10m. But no possessions or money from property sales could be found.

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