The scandal-ridden family past haunting the 'Instagram Princesses'

Revealed: The scandal-ridden family past haunting the ‘Instagram Princesses’ and their Momager mum

  • Carolina and Chiara of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies have extensive royal links
  • Their Italian grandfather was convicted of bribery and died on the run in Mexico 
  • For all the latest Royal news, pictures and videos click here 

Whether it’s touring the streets of St Tropez in skin-tight athleisure wear or posing for the waiting cameras in matching silk pyjamas, Carolina and Chiara de Bourbon certainly know how to curate a social media profile.

Not merely blonde and leggy, the socialite sisters have the advantage of being ‘royal’, which perhaps explains their huge following – and why one of them is said to be dating Prince Christian, the 17-year-old heir to the Danish throne.

Carolina and Chiara are Princesses, after all, with the cachet you might expect from one of Europe’s ‘oldest and most important dynasties’, one stretching back to the days of Charlemagne.

This, and much more besides about their ‘very noble, ancient and glorious family’, is detailed on the glossy website the sisters share with their soignee mother, 52-year-old Princess Camilla, who was recently pictured with her arm around her friend Prince Michael of Kent.

Princesses Carolina and Chiara of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies pictured on the streets of St Tropez just a few days ago. Chiara has been ‘linked’ to Prince Christian, heir to the Danish throne

Dressed in co-ordinated pyjama outfits, Carolina and Chiara arrive together at Club 55 in St Tropez last month

Camillo Crociani, grandfather of Princesses Carolina and Chiara was on the run from the Italian police when he died in Mexico City. In his absence, he was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to more than two years in jail 

Camillo Crociani signs the bail book in Mexico City in 1979 accompanied by his lawyer. The Italian courts found him guilty of corruption but Crociani spirited the family fortune – including a collection of artworks – out of the country

Yet there are one or two aspects of their family history that seem neither noble nor glorious – nor particularly regal.

The Principessas’ social media posts make no reference, for example, to the ten-year dispute between Princess Camilla and her sister over a £100m trust fund including art works by Picasso, Van Gogh and a missing £50m Gauguin.

Or the fact that Princess Camilla (who has so far been on the losing side, although the case continues) was fined £2m for failing to comply with a ruling from the Jersey Courts. At one point, she was weeks away from a 12-month term in jail.

And there is absolutely no mention of the dramatic episode in which the family fortune – including the art – was spirited out of Italy when Princess Camilla’s Industrialist father, Camillo Crociani, was convicted of involvement in the multimillion pound Lockheed bribery scandal.

He fled the country in 1976 just 24 hours before the arrest warrant was issued, taking his beautiful film star wife and daughters with him.

In his absence, Crociani was found guilty of accepting a L140m bribe (about £100,000 in the mid-70s) and sentenced to two years and four months in jail for corruption. He was still on the still on the run from the Italian Police four years later when he died.

The extraordinary story – which you might think rather more compelling than the  sisters’ social media posts – began amid the chaos of mid-70s Italy when their grandfather, Camillo, was head of Finmeccanica, the government-controlled aerospace business group.

By 1976, Finmeccanica was caught up in the notorious Lockheed corruption scandal, which saw huge bribes were paid to procure defence contracts across Europe, including the purchase of Hercules cargo aircraft by Italy.

Two Italian ministers were forced to quit.

That same year, Crociani, now under investigation, fled the country. He travelled first to Switzerland and then to France before winding up in Mexico, where Carlo, his son from an earlier marriage, had purchased a $1 million villa with indoor and outdoor pools.

There was, helpfully, no extradition treaty.

Before he left, Crociani organised the secret transfer of the family’s enormous art collection to safe deposit boxes at Chase Manhattan Bank in Geneva.

Princess Camilla has been ordered to reveal the location of Gauguin’s Hina Maruru, pictured. The £50m painting is a key element in the long-running litigation with her sister, Cristiana 

This villa with its own Saracen tower was owned by Camillo Crociani (inset)  before he went on the run. His daughter Cristiana complains that she grew up in a ‘golden hell’

Prince Michael of Kent in the company of Princess Camilla of Bourbon-Two-Sicillies, mother of Princesses Chiara and Carolina, in St Tropez

Princess Camilla’s mother, actress Edy Vessel, on the set of The Thief of Baghdad in 1961

Edoarda Crociani, grandmother to Princesses Carolina and Chiara, pictured in Rome circa 1960

His wife Edoarda and their two young daughters Camilla – mother of the Instagram princesses – and Cristiana, and son Claudio came with him to Mexico.

Edoarda, nee Vessilovsky, was famous in her own right. Known professionally as the actress and dancer Edy Vessel, she starred in Fellini’s Oscar-winning Otto e Mezzo.

Camillo didn’t have long to enjoy the villa or its pools: he died from cancer in Mexico City, still a fugitive, in December 1980.

Half the fortune went to Edoarda: the rest was split between Camilla, Cristiana, Carlo and another daughter, Daniela, from the earlier marriage. 

They had been left as very wealthy people. In the early 1980s, Edoarda bought a luxury apartment from Rupert Murdoch and went to live in New York City. 

Then in 1987, she provided for her family by establishing a wealth fund in the Bahamas with her daughters Camilla and Cristiana as beneficiaries.

It was named, appropriately, The Grand Fund.

Meanwhile Camilla, the elder of the two, was prospering. In 1989, she married Prince Carlo of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies, Duke of Castro, in what The New York Times called ‘the blue blooded wedding of the decade’.

In so doing, she became a princess. Her husband, Prince Carlo holds a claim to the defunct throne of the former House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, a junior branch of the Spanish royal family, which ruled Southern Italy and Sicily during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Things were changing behind the scenes, too.

That same year, Edoarda, shifted a major part of the Grand Fund to Jersey, whereupon £100m of investments and art started disappearing from the fund and  into other trusts established by Edoarda for herself and Camilla.

Cristiana cried foul and in 2011 began legal proceedings, claiming she could be deprived of her inheritance.

Princesses Carolina, left, and Chiara of Bourbon Two Sicilies in a picture taken from Chiara’s Instagram account. Their mother, Princess Camilla, stands between them. Camilla is engaged in complex litigation with her own sister

Another glamorous social media image shows Princess Chiara, left, with sister Carolina. They are dressed for a Dolce & Gabbana fashion show 

Cristiana Crociani pictured with Prince Albert of Monaco in 2010. The following year, Cristiana initiated a decade-long legal battle with  her sister Camilla over a family trust fund

2017, the Jersey Courts agreed with Cristiana and established an enquiry to identify and locate eight missing pieces of art, including the Gauguin, titled Hina Maruru.

It ordered that the fund should be rebuilt and demanded that Princess Camilla disclose details of her mother’s wealth to bank BNP Jersey.

For her part, Camilla continues to fight the case. She risked a prison sentence in 2021 after failing to abide by the Court’s instructions to replenish the fund and  produce documentation the court demanded.

The advocate for BNP Jersey had outlined Camilla’s lifestyle, highlighting photos taken with President Donald Trump at his Florida home.

Princess Camilla had also made a prominent appearance on the BBC TV documentary Inside Monaco: Playground of the Rich. 

Camilla’s advocate Olaf Blakeley, maintained that she did not know the location of many of the assets in question and had complied with the demands of the court.

But she was fined £2m and threatened with jail unless she paid.

For her part, Camilla claims she is herself the victim of a complex swindle – and the litigation seems likely to grind on for some time, yet.

The case has afforded a glimpse into an extraordinary way of life. Camilla’s sister, Cristiana has described her upbringing as ‘a golden hell’ because she had no independence or private life.

She claimed that the mother, Edoarda, had been obsessed with both her daughter’s marrying into royalty – a theme that seems to have echoed down the generations – and claimed she had been pressured into marrying Italian Prince Bante Boncompagni Ludovisi.

The relationship lasted  four months.

None of this seems to have done the Intagram princesses – or their ‘momager’ mother – much harm as they drift around Monaco, their base, taking pictures of themselves on beach fronts and in palazzos.

They were recently spotted in the company of Prince Michael of Kent, first cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth, at the eye-wateringly pricey Club 55 in St Tropez.

Camilla later shared the snap online – on Instagram, where else? – commenting ‘Happy moments’.

Like her mother, Princess Chiara seems keen to burnish her royal credentials.

‘The Bourbon family is related to almost all the royal families or former rulers of Europe, it’s a kind of big club,’ she has explained.

‘King Felipe VI of Spain, he is my father’s cousin and I am very close to the heir, Leonor, who, like me, loves sports and in particular women’s football.

‘Then the Belgian royals were often our guests in the summer in Saint-Tropez… and one of my best friends is Alexandra of Hanover, Carolina of Monaco’s youngest daughter.’

Princess Camilla with husband Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro. The 1989 marriage was described by The New York Times as the blue-blooded wedding of the decade

Prince Christian, now 17,  is second-in-line to the Danish throne. Is he dating Princess Chiara of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies? 

Princess Camilla with her mother, Edoarda (left) in Monaco, 2014

Edoarda Crociani used the stage name Edy Vessel, pictured on the set of The Thief of Baghdad. She established a trust fund for her daughters following the death of her husband, a corrupt industrialist 

As to the speculation that Chiara might be dating the Danish heir, Prince Christian, the evidence is, well… slender.

It began when the 17-year-old, second-in-line to the throne of Denmark, was pictured in a group shot with Chiara and other friends at the Monaco Grand Prix. Then the couple were seen eating ice cream together in St Tropez.

And – perhaps this is the clincher – it was reported that he had spent time with the princess and her family earlier this summer.

That was after Princess Camilla shared a photograph of them posing with the Danish prince captioning it ‘family and friends’. On Instagram, of course.

Source: Read Full Article