Judge: Prince Philip's Will to Be Kept Under Wraps for 90 Years

Even then, it may not see the light of day
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2021 7:24 AM CDT
Judge: Prince Philip's Will to Be Kept Under Wraps for 90 Years
In this June 8, 2015, file photo, Britain's Prince Philip is seen after unveiling a plaque in London.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

(Newser) – If you've been dying to know who's going to get Prince Philip's hunting apparel, 13,000 books, and autographed pictures of himself, you'll be waiting till around the year 2111. Andrew McFarlane, a judge at London's High Court, has ruled that the will of the late royal, who died in April at the age of 99, should be sealed from public view for at least 90 years, an amount of time McFarlane deemed "proportionate and sufficient," reports CNN.

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"There is a need to enhance the protection ... in order to maintain the dignity of the sovereign and close members of her family," McFarlane wrote in his ruling, referencing Queen Elizabeth, per the Guardian. The judge added that he himself had no clue what was in the will, other than who the executor is and the date of said execution. This British convention of will-sealing kicked off in 1910, when Prince Francis of Teck, Queen Mary's brother, died and his will was cloaked.

The clock in this case starts ticking upon the granting of probate, the first legal step in administering Philip's estate. After the 90 years has passed, an "initial and private process" involving legal representatives for the monarch, the attorney general, the keeper of the royal archives, and any other personal reps who might be around "will be undertaken to consider whether at that stage the will may be unsealed and made public." If it is unsealed, a professional archivist will need to participate in that undertaking.

McFarlane says he's the custodian of a safe filled with 30 envelopes, each containing the will of a dead royal. The two most recent additions to that safe: The wills of Queen Elizabeth's mother and her sister, Princess Margaret, who both died in 2002. This is the first time a process has been detailed on how such wills might one day be made public, per the BBC. One royal whose will wasn't locked down but instead was made public after her 1997 death: that of Princess Diana, who left most of her fortune in a trust to Prince William and Prince Harry. (Read more Prince Philip stories.)

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