Following a long tradition of royal wills being sealed, a London judge has ruled that Prince Philip’s will is to remain sealed for 90 years.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, the most senior judge in the family courts, made the ruling. “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 ruling reads, reports 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.”
British royals have been getting their wills sealed since Queen Mary started the tradition in 1910. She asked for the will of her brother, Prince Francis of Teck, to be sealed.
Wondering the reason behind that first sealing? According to Michael L Nash, the author of Royal Wills in Britain from 1509 to 2008, it was because Francis had some secrets to keep. It appears he was a womanizer and left some of Queen Mary’s emeralds to his mistress, the Countess of Kilmorey. To avoid a scandal, the royals petitioned the courts.
Since then, more than 30 other royal family members have had their wills sealed, including the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Notably, Princess Diana’s was not sealed, and revealed that she left the majority of her money to Prince William and Prince Harry in a trust.
Initially, the Queen’s solicitor argued for wills to remain sealed for 125 years, but Sir Andrew found 90 years to be “proportionate and sufficient.” When the will is unsealed, it is opened and examined by the Queen’s private solicitor, the attorney general, and the keeper of the Royal Archives, in addition to any personal representatives of the person to whom the will belongs.
From what has become publicly known of Philip’s will, he had amassed an approximated $40 million throughout his life, which he left to a number of different parties. The will has already been executed, so what’s done is done, but some speculate that the need for Philip’s will to be sealed may also follow the old theme of infidelity.