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Poker at the Palace? "If we are going to divorce, my husband would hold more cards than I would - it was very much a poker game, chess game." Princess Diana was using poker as a metaphor for her battle with "the enemy". Terms such as "raising the stakes", "calling a bluff", or an "ace in the hole" are commonly used. Poker offers an image of quick action; chess gives us "pawns in the game" and "stalemate".

Certainly the Princess's recent Panorama interview had an element of poker in it. Her per-formance was widely construed as a well-prepared bluff. She calculated that by showing part of her hand she could win the game. Has she won? Will she? Poker lasts more than one television interview. The Princess's real objective was not to win that night but to stay in the game on her own terms. But the other players, enemy or no, run the game and hold the high cards.

This is even clearer in the Prime Minister's efforts to change the game- plan of a single European currency. If the French and the Germans - who hold most of the chips - want to go ahead, an outsider has not much chance. Britain can huff and bluff and ultimately threaten not to play with the others. But where does that leave us? On the outside, looking in. This is the risk Diana runs too.

The Queen prefers jigsaw puzzles, but Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, relished baccarat parties. In a notorious scandal of 1890, Lieutenant- Colonel Sir William Gordon-Cumming, a swashbuckling Scots Guard, was accused of cheating the Prince, and subsequently disgraced. Gambling at baccarat showed up the Prince's fondness for fast company and cast him in a bad light. Nowadays, a member of the royal family could visit a casino and scarcely raise an eyebrow.

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