Prince Philip's will to remain secret for 90 years 'to protect Queen's dignity'

16 September 2021, 22:41 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 17:43

Prince Philip's will is to remain sealed to protect the Queen's dignity
Prince Philip's will is to remain sealed to protect the Queen's dignity. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Prince Philip's will is set to remain secret for at least 90 years to protect the Queen's dignity.

The High Court ruled the public should not see it until 2,111 at the earliest – with a judge claiming protection was needed for the "truly private aspects" of the senior royals' lives.

The Duke of Edinburgh died on April 9 aged 99, two days before he was due to turn 100. He was the UK's longest-serving consort.

It has been convention that when senior members of the Royal Family die an application is made to the High Court to seal their will.

They are rarely available for public inspection.

Read more: As It Happened: The funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Read more: Prince Philip: The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral in pictures

Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the High Court's Family Division, ruled on Thursday that even after being sealed for 90 years it can still only be opened in private.

The judge 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."

He said he wanted to make as much detail as possible public without "compromising the conventional privacy afforded to communications from the Sovereign".

Sir Andrew went on: "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."

Lawyers for the prince's estate said news of the hearing and application for sealing "might generate wholly unfounded conjecture" which would be "deeply intrusive" to the Queen and the Royals.

Sir Andrew, in his capacity as Family Division president, is custodian of a safe that holds 30 envelopes – each holding the sealed will of a deceased Royal.

After 90 years, Sir Andrew said, a process can be held to determine if and when the will can be unsealed and made public.