Prince Philip's Will Is Staying Sealed Until 2111

Judges reject legal challenge from the 'Guardian'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2022 2:42 PM CDT
Prince Philip's Will Is Staying Sealed Until 2111
Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, attends the official opening of the annual Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in London, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, file)

(Newser) – Anybody who wants to know what's in Prince Philip's will should adopt an extremely healthy lifestyle, because its contents are not going to be made public until 2111 at the earliest. A judge ruled last year that the will should remain sealed for at least 90 years to protect the privacy of Queen Elizabeth II, and the Guardian reports that its own legal challenge to the secrecy surrounding that decision has been dismissed by three appeal judges. They ruled that the judge acted correctly when he held the hearing on the will in private, with the media not notified that it was taking place. The judges cited "exceptional" circumstances, reports People.

"We are not sure that there is a specific public interest in knowing how the assets of the Royal family are distributed," the judges wrote, noting that while wills in Britain are usually made public, the rules "allow wills and their values to be concealed from the public gaze in some cases." The judges noted that the hearing three months after Philip's April 2021 death at age 99 "was at a hugely sensitive time for the sovereign and her family." They suggested it was better to have "a single occasion on which [the] full reasons for what had been decided were published" rather than "protracted hearings reported in the press."

It has been customary for more than a century for the wills of British royals to be sealed, the BBC notes. The precedent was set in 1910 when the will of the scandal-plagued Prince Francis of Teck, younger brother of Queen Mary of Teck, was sealed. Vanity Fair reports that the bulk of Philip's estate was almost certainly left to his wife, and it's not clear whether there is anything in the will that could have caused issues for the royals if it was made public. According to a report in the Sun tabloid, Philip planned to be unusually generous to three men who looked after him in his later years: his page, valet, and private secretary. (Read more Prince Philip stories.)

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