High Court rules that Prince Philip’s will must stay secret ‘to protect Queen’

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Prince Philip's will is to remain a secret in order to protect the Queen's "dignity", the High Court ruled during a private hearing.

The Duke of Edinburgh died aged 99 in April this year, leaving the monarch a widower.

Convention dictates the will of a royal family member is sealed after an application to the Family Division of the High Court.

In a ruling published on Thursday, the court ordered the will to be kept sealed for 90 years – and may only be opened privately even after that.

Court president Sir Andrew McFarlane made the decision after hearing arguments from crown lawyers representing Philip's estate, and the Attorney General representing the public.

He said: "I have held that, because of the constitutional position of the Sovereign, it is appropriate to have a special practice in relation to royal wills.

"There is a need to enhance the protection afforded to truly private aspects of the lives of this limited group of individuals in order to maintain the dignity of the Sovereign and close members of her family."

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Sir Andrew added the hearing was held privately to avoid generating "very significant publicity and conjecture", which would be "entirely contrary to the need to preserve the dignity of the Sovereign and protect the privacy surrounding genuinely private matters".

The judge added the public had no substantial interest in finding out the contents of the will.

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Sir Andrew said: "I accepted the submission that, whilst there may be public curiosity as to the private arrangements that a member of the royal family may choose to make in their will, there is no true public interest in the public knowing this wholly private information.

"The media interest in this respect is commercial.

"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."

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  • Queen
  • Royal Family
  • Prince Philip

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