Brazil's Ex-Royals Lose 123-Year Legal Dispute Over Rio Palace

(Bloomberg) -- After a 123-year legal dispute, Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice ruled unanimously that the Guanabara Palace in Rio de Janeiro belongs to the state, and not the heirs of the country’s former royal family.

A press spokesman for the court confirmed that the judges had voted unanimously against two appeals lodged by descendants of Brazil’s last emperor, Dom Pedro II, seeking the return of the property or compensation for its seizure by the state. A lawyer for the former imperial family said they would consider appealing the decision at the Supreme Court, according to the G1 website.

Princess Isabel, the daughter of Dom Pedro II, first filed a claim for the palace in 1895, six years after her father was overthrown by the military, bringing to an end the only monarchy in South America. The former emperor spent the last few years of his life living frugally in Europe, dying in a modest hotel room in Paris. Lawyers for the state argued that the property, currently used as the seat of the Rio de Janeiro state government, was paid for by the nation and belonged to its people.

"The end of the monarchy brought to end the use of this property as a residence for the royal family," Judge Antonio Carlos Ferreira said. "There’s no more to say about princes and princesses."

In a 1993 plebiscite on the country’s preferred form of government, over 13 percent of Brazilians voted for a return of the monarchy.

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