Will of Prince Philip: justice refuses to lift the secrecy of the debates

Prince Philip's will: justice refuses to lift the secrecy of the proceedings


LONDON | The British justice rejected on Friday the appeal of the newspaper The Guardian which contested the exclusion of the media from a hearing having decided to seal the last wishes of Prince Philip, husband of Elizabeth II who died in 2021. 

It has been convention for more than a century that, after the death of a prominent member of the British Royal Family, an application should be made to the President of the Family Division of the High Court in London that the last wishes of the deceased be sealed.

In September, justice ordered that Prince Philip's will be sealed for 90 years to protect the Queen's “dignity”, during a secret hearing at which the media had no could not participate.

The Guardian challenged the exclusion of the media before the Court of Appeal, seeing it as “a serious interference with the principle of transparent justice”.

But the judges ruled on Friday that this was not a case in which “fairness required that the media be informed of the hearing”, citing “exceptional” circumstances and fear of a “storm media.”

“The hearing took place at an extremely sensitive time for the Sovereign and her family, and those interests would not have been protected had there been prolonged hearings reported in the press,” said the Court of Appeal.

According to the left-wing daily, the appeal drew attention to “the secrecy surrounding an obscure exemption granted to the royal family.”

The wills of more than 30 members of the monarchy have been kept secret since 1910, according to the newspaper, while British law provides that everyone's last wishes must be made public, in particular to avoid fraud and warn beneficiaries.

Prince consort with record longevity, the Duke of Edinburgh died on 9 a April 2021 at the age of 99.