British newspaper The Guardian is seeking to take legal action over the Prince Philip will, after the High Court decided to exclude media from the hearings.
Prince Philip passed away on April 9. In September, the High Court ruled that his will would be sealed for 90 years. The press was not notified of the hearing, with the public interest represented by the attorney general.
According to The Guardian, the only parties permitted to attend the hearing were Philip’s executor, Farrer and Co Trust Corporation, a subsidiary of the Queen’s private solicitors Farrer and Co, and the attorney general, Michael Ellis.
The two parties persuaded the judge to exclude the media from the hearing.
The Guardian is claiming that the exclusion of the press is a serious interference with the principle of open justice, asking for the case to be reheard.
British law says a will is a public document
According to British law, after a person’s death their will becomes a public document after being admitted to probate, and anyone can obtain a copy from the Probate Registry for a fee.
Judge Andrew McFarlane defended his ruling writing that “it has become the convention that, following the death of a senior member of the Royal Family, an application to seal their will is made.”
According to McFarlane, the decision to seal a will was first taken in 1910, when Prince Francis of Teck, the younger brother of King George V’s wife Queen Mary, died.
“While there may be public curiosity as to the private arrangements that a member of the royal family may choose to make in their will,” McFarlane wrote, “there is no true public interest… The media interest in this respect is commercial.”
Geoff Kertesz and Judith Swinhoe-Standen from UK law firm Stewarts told CNN that “The court must be persuaded that it would be ‘undesirable or otherwise inappropriate’ to make the will public.”
“Historically, the courts have approved such applications only for senior members of the royal family. It is unclear under what, if any, other circumstances the court might agree to keep a will private,” they said.
The two lawyers also said that, “All previously sealed royal wills are to be kept private indefinitely, but Prince Philip’s will is different in that its privacy is time-restricted to 90 years.”
Life of Prince Philip
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on the island of Corfu in Greece, on June 10, 1921.
As members of Greek and Danish royalty, Philip and his family were banished from his native country when he was 18 months old.
After getting his education in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, he joined the Royal Navy in 1939, when he was 18 years old.
During World War II, he served with distinction in the British Mediterranean and Pacific fleets.
In the summer of 1946, Philip was granted permission by the King to marry Elizabeth, whom he had first met in 1934.
Before the official announcement of their engagement in July 1947, he relinquished his Greek and Danish royal titles and styles, became a naturalised British subject, and adopted his maternal grandparents’ surname Mountbatten.
He married Elizabeth on November 20, 1947. The day prior to their wedding, the King granted Philip the style His Royal Highness. On the day of their wedding, he was additionally created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich.
Philip left active military service when Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952. In 1957, he was created a British prince.
Philip had four children with Elizabeth: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
A sports enthusiast, Philip helped develop the equestrian event of carriage driving. He was a patron, president, or member of over 780 organizations, including the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Philip is the longest-lived male member of the British royal family, being the British royal consort for more than six decades. He retired from his royal duties on 2 August 2017, aged 96.
Philip passed away April 9, 2021, two months before his 100th birthday.