More than 130 years ago, the then Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII, gave evidence in court over a gambling scandal. In 1890, the son of Queen Victoria, who had a reputation for womanising and gambling, arrived in Hull with a group including his friend Sir William Gordon-Cumming, an army officer who lent his home to the prince for meetings with his mistresses.
One evening, Gordon-Cumming sat down at Tranby Croft for a game of baccarat. The gambling game was technically illegal, but highly popular – especially with the Prince of Wales.
A member of the group became convinced Gordon-Cumming was cheating at the game by removing and adding to his stake. This is where the controversy began and eventually led to a scandalous court case.
Gordon-Cumming denied the allegations and it was agreed all present would stay quiet to avoid dragging the Prince of Wales into scandal. However, when the story leaked, the army officer started proceedings for slander against members of the Wilson family, who accused him of cheating, and in 1891 the case went to trial at the same court where Prince Harry is suing the Mirror Group Newspapers.
As part of the trial, the Prince of Wales was forced to give evidence in what newspapers described as “salacious tit-bits of murky goings-on in high places with thinly veiled suggestions of sex skulduggery.” Gordon-Cumming eventually lost the case and his career, thanks to a judge who guided the jury towards siding with the Prince of Wales.