Two British-born orphans adopted by regal Italian family in legal battle over £1 billion fortune
By Nick Pisa
October 12, 2009 / Daily Mail
Two British-born orphans who inherited a billion-pound fortune including two Renaissance palaces and a priceless art collection are at the centre of a bitter Italian legal battle.
Archibald and Mary were plucked as babies from a Roman Catholic orphanage in London and became Prince Jonathan and Princess Gesine after they were adopted by British-born Princess Orietta Pogson Doria Pamphilij.
The two children were brought up in a magnificent 1,000 room palazzo in the centre of Rome, were educated at public schools in Britain and they inherited the family's estimated £1 billion fortune when Princess Orieta died nine years ago, aged 78.
Besides the Palazzo Pamphilij in Rome there is the Palazzo del Principe in Genoa, a country estate south of the Italian capital and more than 650 works of art including paintings by Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens.
One of the most valuable paintings is a portrait by Velazquez of one of the family's ancestors, Pope Innocent X and the family fortune is said to be worth £1 billion.
But Gesine, 45, has fallen out with her brother - who is openly gay - after he 'had' two children, a son and a daughter by surrogate mother and IVF.
Under Italian law the children Emily, three, and Filippo Andrea, two, are not recognised and have no legal rights on the family fortune, despite Jonathan's British-obtained civil partnership with Brazilian lover Elson Edeno Braga.
The case has been going on for two years in a Rome court with Gesine contesting the paternity of Jonathan - whose adoptive father Frank Pogson was a naval officer from Maidenhead, Kent.
Gesine, who has four daughters with art expert husband Massimiliano Floridi, said: 'What the court has to decide is the paternity of these two children.
'I don't really want to put any more meat on the fire but under Italian law they have no official standing - just because you say they are your children it doesn't mean they are.
'I don't agree at all with surrogate mothers, OK people have a right to children but children have a right to parents.
'It has caused a lot of tension with my brother and our relationship has suffered.
'The woman who gives birth doesn't renounce her right to motherhood and what's to say that in ten years time she won't come along with all the paperwork to say she is the mother and make a claim on the estate.
'Surrogate mothers don't do this sort of thing out of the kindness of their heart - they do it for money as it is a lucrative business so she could just as easily come along and make a claim here.
'My brother didn't even tell me about the second child - I read it in the newspapers.
'At first I tried to work something out together with my brother but it didn't work out so I took it to the courts and now they will have to decide.'
Gesine and Jonathan's adoptive mother Princess Orietta met Roman Catholic convert Lieutenant Commander Frank Pogson in Italy during World War Two and they married in the Brompton Oratory in 1958.
The marriage had the blessing of Orietta's father, who himself had married an Englishwoman in a family tradition which dates back to 1830 and they moved to Rome, where Frank died in 1998 after setting up the city's first cricket club.
The court is due to announce its verdict later this month on October 21st.