How much is the late Queen Elizabeth II’s estate worth? Estimates put the amount at £430 million, which includes real estate, investments, jewellery, art collections and more.

However, the exact amount she leaves behind will remain a mystery. Following the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh last year, an application was made by his executors for a court order to seal the will up for 90 years.

The Queen’s will is treated differently, the Transparency Project points out, as there is a long-established common law rule that the Sovereign’s will does not require to be proved by a grant of probate, and therefore, the courts did not have any jurisdiction over the administration of the monarch’s estate.

Inspection of wills

Ordinarily, there is a right to inspect a person’s will under statute. Section 124 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 lays out that all original wills and other documents that are under the control of the High Court in the Principal Registry or any district probate registry:

“shall be deposited and preserved in such places as may be provided for in directions given in accordance with Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005; and any wills or other documents so deposited shall, subject to the control of the High Court and to probate rules, be open to inspection.”

A will is under the control of the court because, first, it must be proved by the grant of probate. For the sovereign, this is not the case.

Probate never taken

The Transparency Project quotes Sir John Nicholls, sitting at the judge of the Prerogative Court in 1822, in the case In the Goods of His late Majesty King George III, who said that in the history of the wills of sovereigns from Alfred the Great to the present day, “no instance has been produced of probate having been taken of the will of any deceased Sovereign in these Courts, much less of its having been contested here against the reigning Sovereign”.

He decided that courts had no jurisdiction to consider any application involving the Sovereign’s will. This was later affirmed when an attempt to reopen the same case was made 40 years later.

So, however fascinating it is to speculate on how Queen Elizabeth chose to dispose of her estate, no copy of her will shall ever be available for inspection at the courts, and even if it were, it is likely it would be sealed up and hidden away for 90 years, as was the case with Prince Philip.

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