Queen’s will to be locked in a safe for at least 90 years

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On Monday, September 19, the Queen will be laid to rest beside her husband of more than 70 years, Prince Philip, following her state funeral in Westminister Abbey. But what of the nation’s longest-reigning monarch’s will? 

There is also a protocol for the late Monarch’s last will and testament, which will be locked away in a safe for decades to come, a tradition dating back for more than a century.

While it would provide some insight into Her Majesty’s wealth, the Queen’s will shall not be seen for at least nine decades. 

Since 1910, following the death of Prince Francis of Teck aged 40, there has been the practice of sealing the wills of royals who have died. Prince Francis was the younger brother of Queen Mary, wife of King George V, and grandmother of the late Queen.

There are more than 30 wills kept in a safe in an unknown location in London, all of which are under the care of a judge. 

Following Prince Philip’s tragic death last year, the details of the procedure of royal wills came to light. 

Once a senior royal dies, the executor of their will then applies to the head of the London High Court’s Family Division, a position currently held by Sir Andrew McFarlane, for the will to be sealed. 

Judges in that position have always agreed to the wills being sealed, as was seen last year when Judge McFarlane dealt with the application to seal the Duke of Edinburgh’s will. 

However, although he agree to the sealing, he also decided to publish his ruling in order to give the public an insight into what was happening. 

Judge McFarlane wrote in his ruling: “It is necessary to enhance the protection afforded to the private lives of this unique group of individuals, in order to protect the dignity and standing of the public role of the sovereign and other close members of Her family. 

“There is no true public interest in the public knowing this wholly private information. The media interest in this respect is commercial.

“The degree of publicity that publication would be likely to attract would be very extensive and wholly contrary to the aim of maintaining the dignity of the Sovereign.”

The will of Prince Philip has now been sealed for 90 years as rule 58 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 states an original will or document “shall not be open to inspection if, in the opinion of a District Judge or Registrar, such inspection would be undesirable or inappropriate”. 

The application was made by Prince Philip’s executor, Julian Smith, who is also Her Majesty’s private solicitor. 

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It follows that the Queen’s will is also to be heard in private and then deposited alongside the Duke of Edinburgh’s, joining that of the Queen Mother, and the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, who both died 20 years ago in 2002. 

Princess Margaret’s will was the subject of a legal challenge by Robert Brown in 2007, who claimed he was the Princess’s illegitimate son.

Mr Brown claimed he wanted to see the will to advance his claim. 

However, he was not given access as the court rejected his belief as “irrational”. 

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