Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth would be pleased to hear that late Prince Philip’s will and its contents are to, at least for the foreseeable future, remain private.
The Guardian newspaper brought a challenge to the Court of Appeal over the decision to exclude the press from the hearing dealing with Prince Philip’s will – a challenge the newspaper lost this Friday.
Senior judges ruled that it was not a case where “fairness demanded that the media be notified of the hearing or asked to make submissions before judgment”, dismissing the newspaper’s appeal.
There was simply no way the media could have been alerted that the hearing was taking place “without risking the media storm that was feared”, said Sir Geoffrey Vos and Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Lady Justice King.
“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 further added.
The judges ruled that the circumstances of the particular case were “exceptional”, Sir Geoffrey Vos and Dame Victoria Sharp adding: “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.
“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,” they finished off.
Prince Phillip passed away in April of last year, unfortunately just two months shy of his 100th birthday.
Convention says that the wills of senior members of the royal family are to be sealed, following an application of the president of the Family Division of the High Court, meaning that senior members of the royal family are not open to public inspection in the way an ordinary will would be.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Division, ruled last October ordering that Prince Philip’s will is to be sealed for 90 years and may be opened in a private even after that.