Late Queen intervened to ensure minor royal’s will was suppressed

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Princess Mary, Princess Royal And Countess Of Harewood
The Countess of Harewood, daughter of George V and an aunt of the Queen, died in 1965 leaving £5.6m in today’s money - UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

Elizabeth II intervened to ensure that the contents of a minor royal’s will were kept private.

Staff at Britain’s National Archives censored documents revealing how the late Queen requested that her relative’s will was kept secret, The Guardian reported.

Staff had recently withdrawn the papers, removed sections of them and then re-released them back into the public domain.

In a report written by the senior judicial official, Robert Bayne-Powell, in 1970, he described in a section removed by censors how the late Queen had “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,” he added.

The Guardian reported that two years ago staff at the National Archives in Kew in south-west London had removed a file containing official discussions on royal wills between 1957 and 1970.

The file had been opened to the public in 2018 but when it was returned, sections of two documents as well as a letter had been withheld. The paper said it could see what had been censored having photographed the complete file in 2021.

Fringe members

The Countess of Harewood, daughter of George V and an aunt of the late Queen, died in 1965 leaving £5.6m in today’s money.

Staff at the archives also removed a letter dated June 1970 from the file in which a courtier in charge of the late Queen’s finances had told a Whitehall official that the wills of minor royals did not need to be kept private.

The courtier, Lord Tryon, told the official: “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.”

This suggested that courtiers were unsure if minor royals should have their wills kept private.

The National Archives said that the documents had been removed, in consultation with the Ministry of Justice, as they contained information relating to communications with the monarch, which would be kept secret under a section of the Freedom of Information Act they said.

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