Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died two months shy of turning 100 on April 9, ending what was more than six decades beside Queen Elizabeth II. The death of Philip – the longest-serving consort – triggered an age-old convention that seeks to preserve the “dignity and standing” of the queen.
London’s High Court established on Thursday that the will belonging to the late Duke of Edinburgh will remain sealed and out of public view for 90 years.
The decision was handed down by Judge Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court, following a private application hearing back in July. Arguments were heard from lawyers representing Philip’s estate and the attorney general – on behalf of the public.
“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,” the judge said, as reported by the BBC. “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.”
The judge elected to hold the hearing in private, as it was likely to trigger “very significant publicity and conjecture.” The presence of the attorney general, on behalf of the public, was enough to satisfy the public interest requirement, according to the judge.
McFarlane disclosed that he did not fully observe the will, and was only provided with the identity of the document’s executor, and the date of the will’s execution.
“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 judge said.
McFarlane also ruled in favor of a request “to exclude the value of the estate from the grant of probate,” according to Reuters.
The late Duke of Edinburgh is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Following the nine decades, an “initial and private process will be undertaken to consider whether at that stage the will may be unsealed and made public.”
Future judgments associated with Philip’s case will not be made public, per the application.