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Queen Victoria’s Son Was the Last British Royal to Testify in Court

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Queen Victoria’s Son Was the Last British Royal to Testify in Court

Prince Harry’s anticipated testimony on Tuesday in a phone-hacking case would be the first time in over 130 years {that a} outstanding member of Britain’s royal household is cross-examined in court docket.

The final time it occurred was in 1891, and it didn’t go nicely for the royal household.

Prince Albert Edward — Queen Victoria’s eldest son, who went on to change into King Edward VII in 1901 — testified as a witness in a slander case that centered on a sport of baccarat gone mistaken at which the prince had been current.

One of the gamers, Sir William Gordon-Cumming, had been accused of dishonest. The prince sided with the accusers, and Mr. Gordon-Cumming misplaced the case.

A neighborhood report from the time, as quoted in The Guardian, mentioned that Edward’s testimony lasted about 20 minutes and that it “wearied him exceedingly, and made him extremely nervous.” The report additionally said that he couldn’t sit nonetheless. It was uncommon then, too, for such a outstanding member of the royal household — the longer term king, no much less — to seem in court docket.

“When a question more pressing, more to the point than usual, was put to him, the prince’s face was observed to flush considerably, and then pale again,” the report learn.

Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, mentioned: “You can see from reading this why it was subsequently decided that this is not something the royal family want. It showed you couldn’t entirely shield even the son of the queen from cross-examination.”

A guide that was printed in 1899 revealed a letter by Edward during which he denounced the scandal and expressed the “deep pain and annoyance” he suffered due to it.

“A recent trial, which no one deplores more than I do, and which I was powerless to prevent, gave occasion for the press to make most bitter and unjust attacks upon me, knowing I was defenseless,” Edward wrote.

He continued, “The whole matter has now died out, and I think, therefore, that it would be inopportune for me in any public manner to allude again to the painful subject which has brought such a torrent of abuse upon me.”

Edward’s testimony in 1891 was not the primary time that the longer term king appeared in court docket. Two a long time earlier, he testified within the divorce case of Harriet Mordaunt, the spouse of an English member of Parliament, who had named Edward as one in all her lovers. (Edward denied it in court docket.) During that trial, Edward appeared to have been within the witness field for just a few minutes, Mr. Fitzwilliams mentioned, and that look appeared to have had much less of an impression on his repute.

Edward — often known as “Bertie” to the folks near him — had loved a repute of being a womanizer with a love for taking part in playing cards.

There are key variations between Harry’s deliberate court docket look on Tuesday and Edward’s appearances. Edward was known as as a witness each instances he appeared in court docket, whereas Harry is likely one of the plaintiffs, that means he most likely knew that cross-examination was in his future.

Furthermore, whereas Harry is a high-profile member of the royal household, he’s not a working royal. And he has by no means been first in line to the throne, not like Edward, who was the crown prince. Still, if the questions journey Harry up, it may very well be embarrassing, consultants mentioned.

“There won’t be the safety net that he’s had with various interviews,” Mr. Fitzwilliams, the royal commentator, mentioned.

Not all press was unfriendly to Edward in 1891. In an article concerning the final day of testimony within the baccarat slander case, The New York Times wrote that he was “affable as ever” and “faultlessly dressed.”

Edward was king for under 9 years. In 1910, he died of pneumonia, leaving the throne to his son George V.

Source web site: www.nytimes.com