Great Britain

Details of Prince Philip’s will to remain secret to protect ‘dignity’ of Queen, High Court rules

THE Duke of Edinburgh's will is to remain secret to protect the "dignity" of the Queen, the High Court has ruled.

Prince Philip's decisions on who would share in his assets won't be revealed because of his wife's constitutional role, judges say.

The royal, who died aged 99 on April 9, had an estimated £30million to share among loved ones.

He may also have asked for money to go to some of the ecological charities he championed.

But the details of the total amount, as well as those bequeathed, won't be revealed for almost 100 years - if at all.

After the death of a senior member of the Royal Family, it has been convention for over a century that an application to seal their will is made to the President of the Family Division of the High Court.

It means the wills of senior royals are not open to public inspection in the way a will would ordinarily be.

The court heard arguments in July from lawyers representing Philip's estate and the Attorney General, who acts on behalf of the public.

The hearing happened behind closed doors.

Sir Andrew McFarlane has now published his ruling on the matter.

He ordered that the will is to remain sealed for 90 years. Even after that date, it may only be opened in private.

The judge said: "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.

"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."

He said the ruling was to make as much detail as possible public without "compromising the conventional privacy afforded to communications from the Sovereign".


And even he hasn't read the will, he added.

Sir Andrew said he had decided to hold the earlier hearing in private because a series of announcements, hearings and then a judgment would have been likely to "generate very significant publicity and conjecture".

However, it was reported that Philip said a final thank you to three key men in his life by leaving them money in his will.

A source close to Buckingham Palace claimed he was "generous" to his aides, including private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, his page William Henderson and valet Stephen Niedojadlo.

All three men were hugely supportive of the duke in his final years with Mr Bakewell frequently standing in for Philip when he couldn’t make an engagement.

Henderson and Niedojadio, meanwhile, took turns to be with him during his stay at Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate, and Henderson was with him during his last two days at Windsor.


Philip, who was the Queen's "rock", died at Windsor Castle after a period of ill-health.

The monarch told of her "deep sorrow" in a statement to the nation.

The duke made his final journey to St George's Chapel in a Land Rover hearse he had designed himself.

Following his death, tributes flowed in from across the world - with the most poignant from his family.

Grandson Harry - to whom Philip was particularly close - remembered him as "master of the barbecue and legend of banter".

William said he would continue to focus on his duty and support the Queen following the death of his "mischievous" and "extraordinary" grandfather.

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