Wills are admitted to probate and become public documents. However, a Royal will can be treated differently.
The probate process
Probate is the process whereby the executors of a deceased’s will, or those dealing with the estate if there is no will, are formally appointed by the court. The document is referred to as a Grant and authorises the Land Registry and financial institutions to deal with the persons nominated.
Once a Grant is made it is a public document. If there is a will, then that also becomes public (along with any codicil).
Sealing a will in the Royal Family
The Royal Family however under the Senior Court Act 1981 s 124 are able to have their wills sealed – i.e. not open to public scrutiny.
This started many years ago to disguise a gift of expensive jewellery to a mistress and has continued. Princess Diana's will was however not sealed. But an air of mystery still surrounds it as an application to vary it was made by her executors and was granted, meaning that the terms of her will were changed slightly.
The Royal Family are constantly under public scrutiny and are of course financially supported by the nation. It does raise the question as to whether there should be an automatic sealing of their wills or whether it should be on application.