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was officially informed. The Earl of Fife was received by Her Majesty the same evening at Windsor Castle. In the House of Commons a Message from the Queen formally announced the intended marriage, and the First Lord of the Treasury gave notice of a motion to grant a suitable provision for the Royal bride, though owing to the great wealth of the bridegroom this was perhaps less necessary than it had been on the occasion of other Royal marriages.

The Earl of Fife (Alexander William George Duff), Baron Skene of Skene, Viscount Macduff, and Baron Braco of Kilbryde, County Cavan, was the only son of James, fifth Earl of Fife, and of the Countess of Fife, who was Lady Agnes Georgiana Elizabeth Hay, daughter of the Earl of Erroll. He was born on 10th November 1849, and was educated at Eton. He succeeded his father in the Scotch and Irish honours on 7th August 1879, and was created an Earl of the United Kingdom in 1885. He sat as Viscount Macduff in the House of Commons from 1874 to 1879 as Liberal member for Elgin and Nairn. Lord Fife, who is one of the largest landed proprietors in Scotland, owning extensive estates in Elgin, Banff, and Aberdeen, was created Duke of Fife and Marquis of Macduff in the peerage of the United Kingdom, on his wedding day, 27th July, having declined to take the title of Duke of Inverness.

The wedding was celebrated in the Chapel at Buckingham Palace, in the presence of the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, with their sons and two younger daughters, the King of the Hellenes, the Crown Prince of Denmark, and the Grand Duke of Hesse.

The King of the Hellenes has always been one of the favourite brothers-in-law of the Prince of Wales, and His Royal Highness and the Princess went to Athens in the autumn to attend the wedding of the Duke of Sparta and Princess Sophie of Germany.

The following year was not very eventful. In March the Prince of Wales performed the ceremonies of finishing and opening the Forth Bridge in the presence of an illustrious assembly, including his son Prince George, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had travelled from Russia on purpose, the Duke of Fife, and the Earl of Rosebery, who was the host of their Royal Highnesses at Dalmeny. The last rivet, which the Prince fixed, is on the outside of the railway, and

holds together three plates. Around its gilded top there runs a commemorative inscription. At the hour appointed for the formal declaration of the opening of the bridge, the wind was blowing so violently that it was impossible for His Royal Highness to make a speech. He simply said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now declare the Forth Bridge open."

It was in March, also, that the Prince of Wales and Prince George attended a Chapter of the Order of the Black Eagle in Berlin, at which Prince George was invested with the insignia of the Order. Subsequently their Royal Highnesses took part in the Ordensfest.

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CHAPTER XII

THE BACCARAT CASE-BIRTH OF LADY ALEXANDRA DUFF THE PRINCE OF WALES'S FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY—ILLNESS OF PRINCE GEORGE OF WALES

DURING the winter of 1890 various rumours had been rife as to a cause célèbre in which the Prince of Wales was to be called as a witness. These reports proved to have had substantial. foundation in the following spring, when Sir William Gordon-Cumming, a cavalry officer of good family, who had distinguished himself in the Egyptian campaign, and was understood to enjoy the personal friendship of the Prince of Wales, brought an action for slander against five defendants-Mrs. Arthur Wilson, Mrs. A. S. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. Lycett Green, and Mr. Berkeley Levett-who had accused him of cheating at baccarat at Tranby Croft, the Wilsons' place near Hull.

The trial opened early in June before Lord Chief Justice Coleridge, and the Prince of Wales was accommodated with a seat on the bench. The Court throughout wore the air of a theatre rather than of a Court of Justice, the bench and both the galleries being filled with ladies, who used their opera-glasses with freedom to discover the notabilities in Court, and to watch Sir William Gordon-Cumming under examination. The great counsel of the day were engaged. Sir Edward Clarke (Solicitor-General), with Mr. C. F. Gill as his junior, conducted the case for Sir William GordonCumming; and Sir Charles Russell (now Lord Chief Justice), with Mr. Asquith, appeared for the defendants, the Attorney-General having withdrawn from the case.

The Solicitor-General made a speech of singular power and

skill on behalf of his client. The point of the defence was that Sir William Gordon-Cumming-who was accused of the trick known as la poussette, by which a player at baccarat increases his stake after he sees that the cards are in his favour or the coup has been declared-had simply been playing on a system. This theory Sir William supported in the witness-box with great steadiness, and though his cross-examination was most severe, he maintained that on no occasion had he wrongfully increased the stake. When the cross-examiner came to a document which the plaintiff had signed, practically admitting his guilt, and which had been witnessed by the Prince of Wales, Sir William's explanation was, in effect, that he was hopeless of convincing those round him of his innocence, and that he desired for his own sake and that of others to avoid a scandal.

The Prince of Wales stepped into the box and was sworn in the ordinary way on the second day. Sir Edward Clarke addressed him as "Sir" and "Your Royal Highness," and Sir Charles Russell did the same. The Prince gave his evidence with much frankness, but it was largely of a formal character. His Royal Highness, however, said that at the time when, as banker, he questioned Sir William Gordon-Cumming on the largeness. of his winnings, he did not think he had been cheating; but he added, in cross-examination by Sir Charles Russell, that in advising Sir William Gordon-Cumming to sign the document, he considered he had been acting most leniently.

As the Prince was leaving the witness-box an amusing incident occurred. A juryman rose from the back of the jury-box, and with naïf frankness put two important questions-whether the Prince had ever seen Sir William Gordon-Cumming cheating, and whether he believed him to be guilty. In reply to the first question the Prince answered that the banker would not be in a position to see foul play, and that among friends it would not be expected; and to the second he replied that, Sir William's accusers being so numerous, he could not but believe them. Having elicited these very important facts, the little juryman sat down, and the Prince stepped out of the box with a smile and a bow.

The Prince's evidence was followed by that of General Owen Williams, who, with Lord Coventry, drew up the document signed

by the plaintiff. General Williams made two important statements -that he believed Sir William guilty, and that the Prince had objected to his placing his hands on the table in such a way that the counters could not properly be seen. In the course of the evidence it came out that the stakes played for on the two evenings were not large, but that Sir William won in all £225, which was paid him by cheque and which he retained.

The trial lasted seven days, and on 9th June the jury, after ten minutes' deliberation, returned a verdict for the defendants.

The most extraordinary interest was taken in the case, both in this country and on the Continent and in America, no doubt chiefly owing to the Prince of Wales's connection with it. A Prince of Wales has rarely been called as a witness in a case, although, of course, in the theory of English law, all men are equal, and the privileges, if any, which would attach to His Royal Highness would not attach to him in his capacity as Prince of Wales or Heir-Apparent to the Throne, but simply in his capacity as a peer of the United Kingdom.

It was pointed out by many that the conduct attributed to Sir William Gordon-Cumming was obviously not that of an officer and a gentleman, and in the House of Commons a week after the trial the Secretary of State for War expressed the regret of the Prince of Wales that he had not required Sir William to submit his case to the Commander-in-Chief.

The Prince of Wales became a grandfather for the first time this spring, for on 17th May the Duchess of Fife gave birth to a daughter at East Sheen Lodge. The question was immediately raised whether the infant should take Royal rank as a Princess of the Blood. When Sir William Beechey painted his portrait of Princess Victoria, the distance between the Duke of Kent's little daughter and the throne was as great as or even greater than that of the little daughter of the Princess Louise at her birth. It was ultimately settled, in accordance with the wishes, it was understood, of both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Fife, that the infant should simply take the rank and precedence of a Duke's daughter and be called Lady Alexandra Duff.

The child was christened on 29th June in the Chapel-Royal, St. James's. The Queen came to London to act as sponsor to her great

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