On 16 September 2021 the President of the Family Division handed down judgment in Re: The Will of His late Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh  EWHC 77 (Fam) (opens in a new tab).
Paragraphs 87- 89 of the judgment note as follows:
- Drawing matters together, the principle that there should be a level of transparency as to the fact that a Royal will, in this case that of HRH The Prince Philip, has been sealed has now been established. The fact that a number of other wills have been similarly sealed over the past century is known and, in those circumstances, the same level of transparency should now apply to those wills so that the fact that they have been sealed and are currently in the custody of the President of the Family Division should be made public by naming them in a list.
- The publication of the list is, however, in no manner an invitation for any person or agency to apply to open any or all of those wills. So far as is known, the sealing orders that have previously been made are open-ended in terms of time. By the order that will follow this judgment, that situation has now changed and, after the expiration of 90 years from the grant of probate, an initial and private process will be undertaken to consider whether at that stage the will may be unsealed and made public. It must be absolutely plain to one and all that any application to open a sealed will, prior to the expiration of the 90 year period, is likely to be dealt with by the President of the Family Division on a summary basis and is highly likely to fail in the absence of a specific, individual or private justification relating to the administration of the deceased’s estate (for example a potentially meritorious claim of entitlement to inheritance). In short, the publication of the list is intended to be an end in itself, in order to achieve transparency, and nothing more.
- It may be that one or both of the parties will wish to seek permission to appeal against the orders that will follow from this judgment with respect to the time period and/or the publication of the list of sealed wills. The annex containing the list of wills will not therefore be published at this stage to allow for any potential appeal process to run its course.
In the absence of any such applications having been filed by either party, the wills currently held in the custody of the President of the Family Division are named in the annex to the judgment.
The original judgment and the annex can both be read below.