The Nineteenth Century Baccarat Scandal

In the murky industry of gambling, events have occurred which were even more bizarre than fiction. At the close of the 19th century, a scandal took place involving baccarat, that has been historically called the “Royal Baccarat Scandal”.

During this period, baccarat playing was prohibited in England, although the aristocracy were not bothered about this. Games of baccarat were regularly featured at high society dos. The Prince of Wales at the time, Edward VII (the future King), who greatly enjoyed a flutter, frequently participated. One such do was hosted on the 8th of September 1890, at the country residence (Tranby Croft) of ship maker Sir Arthur William. The Prince and Sir William were there playing baccarat. During the evening and the following day, numerous players witnessed Sir William cheat by removing or adding to the chips he  bet after he had lost or won. On the 10th of September, a few of the guests told Sir William they had caught him. Consequently, Sir William admitted it and signed a contract to say he would not gamble any more. The guests said that they would keep the incident confidential.

Nonetheless, the scandal rapidly spread amongst the aristocracy. The Prince is rumoured to have been dismayed at being swindled and used his mistress, Lady Brooke, as a way of getting some revenge. Lady Brooke was called the "Babbling Brook" due to her gossiping habits. Consequently, Sir William became ostracised by the social groups that he previously moved in.

Sir William took out a court order to file a suit for defamation against the people who initially accused him. The Prince wasn't a defendant, although he was called to be a witness. Once the suit got filed, this cheating episode entered the public domain to become named the Royal Baccarat Scandal. This trial started on the 1st of June 1891. The Prince had to admit he was a baccarat player, which was illegal. The Prince also had to admit that, under Army Regulations of the Queen, he should have reported the illegal actions of another army officer, but he had not done so.

That was the sole consultation that Sir William got. The defendant's testimonies, along with his signed confessional, represented obstacles that he was not able to surmount. The trial finished on 9th June, and the jury rapidly acquitted each defendant of every charge. Sir William got sacked from the armed forces. He wed his fiancée, Florence Garner (the US heiress), on the day following the trial. Although he was more discreet about it, the Prince of Wales carried on gambling. Rumours circulated that he abandoned baccarat in favour of whist.

The Royal Baccarat Scandal gets mentioned in some 007 films. In Moonraker, after 007 is given the mission to find Hugo Drax cheat at bridge, the possible publicity from this is compared with the Royal Baccarat Scandal. Whenever baccarat players bet on this straightforward game at internet casinos, they should pause to ponder over the more exciting nuances of the game in fiction and history.

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