He is reputed to have sat on Queen Victoria’s throne, hidden under her sofa and even stolen her underwear during his secret explorations of Buckingham Palace. And when he became too troublesome young Edward Jones, an early “celebrity stalker” who was only 14 when his campaign began, was 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”, as he was known, is being told in a book written by Jan Bondeson, Called, “Queen Victoria’s Stalker.”
“It really is an extraordinary tale,” said Bondeson today. “The Boy Jones had a remarkable ability to get into the 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 panties.”
“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.” 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. Bondeson said: “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.”
“I think that a strong case can be made for Boy Jones, as he was dubbed by the press, being the first recorded celebrity stalker on record,” Bondeson said. “He has many things in common with people who bother actors and actresses today. Just like them, he was obsessed with a person of the opposite sex, and of much higher social standing.”
The boy was found not guilty of theft in open court after his first break-in. Apart from the underwear which he had stolen from the Queen’s dressing room; Jones was first caught inside Buckingham Palace in 1838 when he was just 14. He was discovered in the queen’s dressing room with several pairs of regal underwear stuffed inside his trousers. He’d also stolen several letters to Her Majesty -which he’d opened – and a portrait.
He had been at large in the palace for three days, and had even sat on the throne and played with a crown and some jewels One even succeeded in entering Buckingham Palace desperate to propose to her and was discovered asleep in a corridor near her bedroom.
Jones had become so famous that Charles Dickens even visited him in prison. He became such a media celebrity that prints were produced and poems and songs written celebrating his exploits. For early Victorians, the idea that an ordinary person could get so close to the monarch was both fascinating and appalling.
In 1849, he was convicted of burgling a house in Greenwich and sentenced to ten years’ transportation in Australia, but by 1856 he was back in Britain and was again arrested for burglary.
After serving a six-month sentence, he returned to Australia. Even there, his notoriety clung to him and he died, in 1893, after falling off a bridge in a drunken stupor. He had never had a relationship with a woman. And although Queen Victoria was the only female in whom he had even shown any interest, he died having never actually met her.