'Germany's laziest MP' shames Bismarck name with alleged fight

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The Independent Online

The descendants of Germany's "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck were at the centre of a scandal yesterday, following revelations that police had been called to the family's country seat to end an alleged fight between the legendary statesman's great-great-grandson, Count Carl-Eduard von Bismarck, and his 71-year-old mother, Princess Elisabeth von Bismarck.

Police were called to Friedrichsruh, the Bismarcks' country mansion near Hamburg, after a house porter had telephoned them demanding they intervene to stop a "punch-up".

"We received an emergency call and sent all available men up to the house because there was a suspicion that weapons might be involved," Sonja Kurz, a police spokeswoman said. "It appears that Carl-Eduard wanted to throw his mother out, although she is the lady of the house," she added.

Police spent four hours at the house. They said Carl-Eduard and a male friend had been in the building when Princess Elisabeth arrived and that both men had forced her out of the house through a door to a terrace. Some reports claimed that the Princess was threatened with a hunting rifle.

State prosecutors were yesterday to be deciding whether to bring charges of coercion against Carl-Eduard. However he flatly rejected the police version of the incident. "The police did arrive, but they were gone very quickly," he insisted. "I did not use a weapon, nor did I throw my mother out."

The incident was the latest embarrassment for the Bismarcks, a family which once enjoyed near-regal status in Germany. Over the past few years the clan has been in and out of the headlines mostly because of Carl-Eduard's disappointing performance as an MP in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Party.

Carl-Eduard was forced to resign his seat two years ago after the mass circulation Bild newspaper labelled him "Germany's laziest MP". It emerged he hardly attended party meetings or parliamentary sessions and spent most of his time in New York. "He won't even answer the emails his constituents send him," one Conservative party official complained.

The Bismarcks are said to be deeply upset by Carl-Eduard's behaviour, which is deemed to have sullied the family's noble reputation. The Iron Chancellor's great-grandson, Prince Ferdinand von Bismarck, is reported to want Carl-Eduard's younger brother, Gregor, to become his successor rather than his oldest son.