King Charles’ Cups and Balls

14 January 2022

These are the Cups and Balls used by the then Prince Charles when, in October 1975, he performed a routine which gained him membership of The Magic Circle. The King, born 1948, remains an Honorary Life Member and a Member of the Inner Magic Circle to this day. Actually the Cups were lent to him by Commander Robert de Pass a member of The Magic Circle who, as a young sailor, had bought them on the streets of Cairo while on shore leave in 1942 during World War II. (If you look at them closely you can see they are covered in Egyptian figures). De Pass went on to be a naval colleague and friend of fellow polo player Lord Mountbatten. It was Lord Mountbatten who persuaded his nephew to apply for membership of the society and it was De Pass who provided the Cups and Balls and taught the routine.

The Cups and Balls is a classic of magic where balls mysteriously appear and vanish beneath cups (usually three) often with unexpected objects appearing at the end. It is generally considered to be one of the oldest sleight of hand tricks but is still performed regularly today – notably by street artistes in London’s Covent Garden and elsewhere. De Pass (1921-2018) also played polo with Prince Philip and his wife was a Lady in Waiting to the late Queen.

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