Queen Victoria's Knickers - The Strange case of Edward Jones
The Queens Underwear
The date is 1838, the location is the Marble Hall at Buckingham Palace in London England. One of the Queen's porters is busy doing his rounds. As he enters the Marble Hall, he sees the shadowy figure of someone who should not be there. He challenges the intruder who promptly turns on his heel and runs.
A chase ensues and although the intruder manages to evade the porter and escape from the palace he is eventually cornered and captured by the Police on St.James's Street who discover him to be a fourteen year old boy. The Police search him and find, stuffed down his trousers - a selection of Queen Victoria's underwear!
Victoria's Regular Visitor
The boy was Edward Jones, the son of a Tailor from the Westminster area of London. He had gained entry to Buckingham Palace by disguising himself as a Chimney Sweep.
After capture he was brought before Queens Square Police Court on the 14th December 1838. The court heard from Jones's builder employer that he had often talked at work about his desire to get into the palace. Despite the fact that he had stolen not only Queen Victoria's knickers, but also a regimental sword, the Jury still acquitted him.
This was by no means Jones's only foray into the palace - He actually made quite a habit of it. On November 30th 1840, only nine days after the birth of Queen Victoria's first child (Princess Victoria), he was reported as having "..scaled the wall of Buckingham Palace about half-way up Constitution Hill". On this occasion, he gained entry to the palace and then left again undetected.
Shortly afterwards on December 1st he again broke in to the palace. He was not so lucky this time, he was eventually caught and dragged out from underneath a sofa in Queen Victoria's dressing room, shortly after midnight, causing her to record in her journal "..if he had come into my bedroom, how frightened I would have been"
He is also known to have sat on the Royal Throne on at least two occasions.
"The Boy Jones"
The 1840 incident, happening so soon after the Queen gave birth, created tremendous interest in the press, and conferred celebrity status on Jones himself. He became known as "The Boy Jones" - the nickname the newspapers had given him.
The dressing room incident saw "The Boy Jones" sentenced to serve three months in a House of Correction. His father tried to enter a plea of insanity on his behalf, but this was rejected by the court.
His sentence at Tothill Fields Prison did nothing to deter him from his propensity to visit the palace. On the15th of March 1841, despite a reinforced guard, he managed to break into the palace and help himself to food before being caught. He was sentenced to three months hard labour in a house of correction.
The press made great capital out of "The Boy Jones's" latest escapade, and after some angry exchanges, three additional sentries were appointed to the palace security team.
Such was "The Boy Jones's" fame, that on his release from prison, he was offered four pounds a week (not far off three hundred pounds at today's values) to appear in Music Hall (Vaudeville) shows - He declined the offer.
Keeping Jones Away from Victoria
The Palace authorities were now becoming a bit twitchy about "The Boy Jones" and the security risk he presented. They thought that it would probably be a good idea to send him somewhere far away, so when he was discovered loitering in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace, he was ordered, without trial, to do duty on a British Warship, becoming in effect, a Galley Slave.
But "The Boy Jones" was not one to give up easily and a year later managed to jump ship at Portsmouth and walk to London. He was arrested before he reached the palace and was sent back to his ship.
His last mention in the British Press was in 1844 when he was rescued after going overboard during a sea journey between Tunis and Algiers.
"The Boy Jones's" misdeeds eventually caused him to be transported to Australia. At first it seemed that perhaps this was a good move. Things looked like they might be taking a turn for the better when he was appointed as the Town Cryer in Perth.
The bright start did not continue, things slowly went from good to bad and he eventually descended once more into crime, becoming a burglar. The downward spiral continued and he turned to the bottle, becoming a full blown alcoholic before falling to his death from a bridge in 1893.
Victoria's Celebrity Stalker?
So ended the life of what was possibly the worlds first celebrity stalker - "The Boy Jones", although it would seem that his obsession was not so much with Queen Victoria herself, as with her place of residence - Buckingham Palace,
Not only was Jones the subject of many Satirical Magazine and Newspaper articles, but was also the inspiration for a childrens book by Joan Howard "The Boy Jones" in 1943, and a 1950s motion picture "The Mudlark".
Queen Victoria's Stalker
The amazing tale of Britain's first celebrity stalker. After her coronation in 1838, Queen Victoria was a frightened young woman. She was relentlessly pursued by a weird teenager, Edward, 'the Boy' Jones, who had an uncanny ability to sneak into Buckingham Palace without being detected. Once, he broke into her bedroom and stole her underwear, and at least twice he sat on the throne. 'If he had come into my bedroom, how frightened I would have been', the Queen wrote in her journal after the Boy Jones had been hauled out from underneath a sofa in her dressing room. This book tells the full story of the Boy Jones, one of the first celebrity stalkers in history: his heady days as a media celebrity, and the long and bitter years as a British galley slave, imprisoned without charge or trial. It suggests that 'stalking' is not a modern phenomenon, rather a relabeling of aberrant human behaviour that has been known for centuries. It also raises the moral question of what lengths the authorities should go to 'remove' some royal stalker or potential assassin, since the Boy Jones was held captive in breach of habeas corpus for longer than any wartime fascist, IRA member or Moslem terrorist.
Some of my Other Hubs
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- Mystery Files: The Woman Who Burst Into Flames - Spontaneous Human Combustion
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