National Archives files show Queen asked for late aunt’s will to be concealed


Staff at the National Archives reportedly redacted documents showing how the late Queen asked for details of a relative’s wealth to be withheld from the public.

The redacted portions contain a request from Queen Elizabeth II to suppress publication of the will of her late aunt, the Countess of Harewood. The direct request was made more than five decades ago.

Staff in Kew, south London, withdrew a previously disclosed file detailing official discussions about royal wills between 1957 and 1970, censored parts of it and then placed them back in the public domain, The Guardian reported.

The document was open to the public since 2018, before being withdrawn two years ago to be censored and reshared later that year.

The National Archives said the file was reviewed and later redacted in consultation with the Ministry of Justice as the documents contained information relating to communications with the monarch. The information was kept secret under a section of the Freedom of Information Act, it added.

The royal family has been able to keep the contents of its wills secret for more than a century due to a convention that otherwise doesn’t apply to commoners.

One of the censored documents was a 1970 report by senior judicial officer Robert Bayne-Powell. “I learn that her majesty requested the solicitors for the executors to apply to seal up the will of the Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood. I suggest that any royal will should be sealed up if the sovereign so requests,” read the censored paragraph, according to The Guardian.

A letter dated June 1970 was also removed in which a Whitehall official recorded a conversation with Lord Tryon, the then-courtier in charge of the Queen’s finances. “The Buckingham Palace lawyers consider that except in special circumstances (for example a will containing something which should not be made public) ‘fringe members’ of the royal family need not have their wills sealed. This should only be for HRHs,” Tryon told an official.

Another innocuous paragraph from an official memo in 1970, which recorded Tryon and the Queen’s private secretary discussing junior royal family members with an official, was removed.



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