Prince Philip's Will to Remain Secret Following Newspaper's Legal Challenge

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Prince Philip
Prince Philip

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Prince Philip

The contents of Prince Philip's will are to remain private due to "exceptional" circumstances.

A judge ruled last year that the will of Queen Elizabeth's late husband would be sealed and kept private for at least 90 years. However, The Guardian challenged the decision to exclude media from a July 2021 hearing that made that ruling.

On Friday, judges rejected the claim, saying there were "exceptional" circumstances for the hearing to be held in private, according to The Telegraph.

The three judges — Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lady Justice King — said press could not be alerted to the private hearing "without risking the media storm that was feared."

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Queen Elizabeth Sporting the Crown Through the Years
Queen Elizabeth Sporting the Crown Through the Years

getty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

"The hearing was at a hugely sensitive time for the Sovereign and her family, and those interests would not have been protected if there had been protracted hearings reported in the press rather than a single occasion on which full reasons for what had been decided were published," they said in the ruling.

Although wills in the U.K. are usually public record after someone's death, it has been practice for over a century for the wills of royal family members to be sealed.

The judges said, "It is true that the law applies equally to the Royal family, but that does not mean that the law produces the same outcomes in all situations. These circumstances are, as we have said, exceptional."

"We are not sure that there is a specific public interest in knowing how the assets of the Royal family are distributed," they added. "A perceived lack of transparency might be a matter of legitimate public debate, but the (Non-Contentious Probate Rules) allow wills and their values to be concealed from the public gaze in some cases. The judge properly applied the statutory test in this case."

prince philip
prince philip

Matt Dunham/Getty Prince Philip

Prince Philip died "peacefully" at age 99 on April 9, 2021 at Windsor Castle, the Buckingham Palace announced at the time. His cause of death was determined to be old age.

"It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," the palace said in a prior statement. "His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle."

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After only a handful of family members could attend his funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions, the royals gathered in March for a memorial service honoring the Duke of Edinburgh.