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07-2022

British justice defended Philip of Edinburgh’s will for 90 years

Philip of Edinburgh carried with him an important secret to the grave: his will. The last will of Elizabeth II’s husband will remain sealed for 90 years. A judge of the Supreme Court of London gave the same ruling a year earlier, and the British Court of Appeal had also confirmed it before the paper’s appeal. Guardian, The controversy pitted the protection of the freedom of the press against the Queen’s right to privacy. Finally, in a decision passing off the specific case of Philip of Edinburgh, it is decided to defend the latter. Since 1911, the British royal family has managed to circumvent Britain’s law that requires the will of British citizens to be made public. During this time, Windsor has requested 33 wills to be kept secret and at today’s prices updated at least £187 million (about 223 million euros) of assets have been distributed behind the public’s back, calculates Guardian, The judiciary never turned down any of these requests.

Last year, following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, the English newspaper requested access to the will. He then argued that excluding the media from reading this document undermines the core principle of open justice, which requires public access to judicial proceedings. For his part, Judge Sir Andrew MacFarlane, chairman of the High Court’s Family Division, acknowledged an understanding of “curiousness” to know the last wish of such a prominent member of the royal family. But he argued that it had no “public interest” and that the media only pursued its publication for “commercial interest”. For McFarlane, it was, in fact, necessary to “improve the security given to some really private aspects of this particular group of people”.

This Friday, three judges of the Court of Appeal have chosen to support the jurist’s thesis and ruled that the media does not have the right to attend the hearing, nor to be notified of it, it says. Propaganda will “compromise” the need to preserve the dignity of the Queen and the privacy of her family.

At the core of this judicial tussle lies in a mess of skirts and jewelry that took place more than 100 years ago. In 1911, with the death of Prince Francis of Teck, the practice of sealing the royal will began. This famous womanizer bequeathed the family’s most valuable jewels to her mistress, a noble and married woman, in her will. Queen Maria de Teck, Francesco’s sister and grandmother of the current sovereign, then asked the court that her relative be kept a secret to avoid scandal. And he succeeded, setting an example that the Windsors cling to every time a family member dies, no matter how distant.

During this time there has been little official explanation from the judiciary or the British government about the practice. Official documents from the British National Archives relating to governments in the 1970s and 1980s show that top government officials privately believed that keeping the royal family’s wills secret was a legally dubious practice. Despite this, in 1981 he suggested ministers in Margaret Thatcher’s government not to highlight this aspect in Parliament while an important law was debated in the House of Lords.

Philip of Edinburgh has faced no major public scandals during his reign, the longest ever scandal for a wife in the British royal family. It sounds daunting to think of keeping secret lovers and family jewelry in secrecy, but hiding his desire from the public eye could save the Windsors more than one explanation. There is another aspect, minor but relevant, which is crossed out. Confidentiality is not the only exception that affects wills in Buckingham. According to British law, there are two cases that allow you to save inheritance tax and not pay 40% of the amount to the public treasury: one is when the inheritance passes from the wife to the sovereign, as in Philip of Edinburgh. In the case of Elizabeth. Second. The second is when he passes from sovereign to sovereign, which will happen when the current queen dies and her inheritance will pass into the hands of her eldest son, Charles of England. The public probably knows only this about his will.

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