The will of Queen Elizabeth II’s late husband Prince Philip is to remain private due to “exceptional” circumstances, U.K. judges ruled Friday.
After his passing in April 2021, it was ruled by the U.K.’s High Court that Prince Philip’s will would be sealed for at least 90 years. Following this decision, U.K. newspaper The Guardian legally challenged the fact that the media was excluded from a July 2021 hearing that made that ruling, the BBC reported.
Although the newspaper argued that there was a “lack of external scrutiny,” judges rejected the claim, saying that there were “exceptional” circumstances for the hearing to be held in private.
The three judges — Sir Geoffrey Vos, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lady Justice King — said the press could not be alerted to the private hearing as it would risk a “media storm” occurring.
“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, according to People.
Wills in the U.K. are usually public record after someone’s passing. However, it has been practice for over a century for the wills of royal family members to be sealed.
“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,” the judges said.
“We are not sure that there is a specific public interest in knowing how the assets of the Royal family are distributed,” they continued. “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 died “peacefully” on April 9, 2021, at Windsor Castle, just two months before his 100th birthday. His cause of death was determined to be old age.
Only a handful of family members were present during his funeral last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, but in March, the royals gathered for a memorial service honoring the late Duke of Edinburgh.
The Queen attended the service wearing dark green, which was reportedly the shade of Prince Philip’s official livery color of “Edinburgh Green.”
Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were also present. However, Prince Harry, who attended his grandfather’s funeral in April last year, skipped the memorial service.