02 February 2011
The Great Victorian Panty Heist
Yesterday’s Grauniad reported on the tale of the forgotten Victorian super villain, Boy Jones.
Boy Jones was possibly the first ever royal stalker. His exploits included sitting Queen Victoria's throne, hiding under her sofa and worst of all, stealing a pair of her underwear.
Edward “Boy” Jones, an early celebrity stalker, was just 14 when he started his campaign of terror. He was finally shipped off to the other side of the world to make sure he would not embarrass the monarchy further.
The little-known story of "the Boy Jones" is being told in a book written by Jan Bondeson, from Cardiff University.
"It really is an extraordinary tale," said Bondeson . "The Boy Jones had a remarkable ability to get into the (Buckingham) palace. They just couldn't keep him out. He sat on the throne, he looked at books in the royal library and went inside Queen Victoria's private apartments - once he even stole her underwear.
"The amazing thing is really how close he was able to get to the Queen, and the extraordinary lengths the authorities went to get rid of him. They were worried about what the Boy Jones might tell people, and what he might do. No one really knew what was going on in his head.
"He might go blabbering to the papers about seeing the Queen in the nude or he could go back to the palace with a gun. They didn't know if he might try and shoot Prince Albert, as his perceived rival, or even the Queen herself."
Bondeson said the boy broke in on three occasions between 1838 and 1841, despite being hauled before the authorities each time. His explanation was that he had "always wished to see the palace" and wanted to write a book about what he had heard.
The boy was found not guilty of theft in open court after his first break-in. But he was subsequently prosecuted behind closed doors and was eventually transported to Australia. He took to drink and died in his 70s on Boxing Day 1893 after falling off a bridge drunk and landing on his head.
Bondeson said: "The Boy Jones was the first known celebrity stalker in history. He was so famous in his time that he was hounded through the whole of his life. People would follow him shouting: 'There's the boy who went to visit the Queen.'
"But he was a strange kind of stalker. He didn't follow the Queen everywhere, but had a fascination with Buckingham Palace itself instead. If he had shown signs of being a madman, they would have locked him up immediately but he could be fully lucid.
"The way he was treated is something you can imagine under the rule of Mugabe - he was undesirable so they just got rid of him. His trial was held in secret and as a result of this suppression, information about the Boy Jones is very hard to come by."
Bondeson’s book, Queen Victoria and the Stalker: The Strange Story of the Boy Jones was published in August. Still better late than never for some publicity for such a fascinating story. Actually it has been reviewed in quite a few other places but not ones I would visit regularly
I feel a purchase coming on!