To maintain the monarch’s dignity, the will of Prince Philip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth II, will be sealed and kept private for at least 90 years, according to a judge at London’s High Court.
On April 9, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had been married to the 95-year-old British monarch for more than seven decades, died at the age of 99 at his wife’s Windsor Castle home.
Andrew McFarlane, the president of the court’s Family Division, said he had agreed that Philip’s will should be sealed up “and that no copy of the will should be made for the record or kept on the court file,” in keeping with a custom dating back to 1910.
He also ruled in favor of the request “to exclude the value of the estate from the grant of probate”.
McFarlane said in a ruling published on Thursday, “The degree of publicity that publication would be likely to attract would-be very extensive and wholly contrary to the aim of maintaining the dignity of the Sovereign.”
He explained that after a senior royal died, an application to seal the will was brought to the president of the Family Division, with such hearings and judgments kept private.
However, he said “as is plain from this judgment” he considered it was a “necessary and proportionate intrusion into the private affairs of Her Majesty and the Royal Family to make public the fact that an application to seal the will of HRH Prince Philip … has been made and granted in private, and to explain the underlying reasons“.
The judge stated that 90 years should pass from the granting of probate before the will should be unsealed in private before possible publication, a period he considered “proportionate and sufficient.”
He said that Prince Francis of Teck, the younger brother of George V’s wife Queen Mary, was the first royal whose will was sealed. He claimed to be the custodian of a safe that contained more than 30 envelopes with the wills of dead royals.
Following the deaths of Queen Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth, and her sister Princess Margaret, the most recent additions were made in 2002, he stated.