Is it just me or does the image of an old conservative woman come to mind when someone mentions Queen Victoria? Her reign lasted so long that only Queen Elizabeth II has been able to take the record out of her hands. But we’re not talking about the current monarch. If you think of the many depictions of Queen Victoria, most of them are of a mature powerful woman in charge of a nation. But, as it’s kind of obvious, this wasn’t always like that, and there was a time in Victoria’s life where she wasn’t the confident and decisive woman commonly depicted in art, movies, television, and pamphlets of the time.
In Jean-Marc Vallée’s 2009 film, The Young Victoria, we see those days of uncertainty and confusion of a girl who becomes the head of the state without any sort of preparation. We see the love story of Victoria and Albert, as well as the difficulties of a young marriage trying to get used to the norms of monarchy and the power hierarchy. According to historians, their marriage was a true demonstration of love, but we’ll leave that part of the story for another day.
It was during this time when our story takes place. In her youth, Queen Victoria was said to be a very beautiful and delightful woman that captured the hearts of her people. That’s the case of Edward Jones, who became part of history as “Boy Jones,” the official royal stalker. At the time, Buckingham Palace didn’t have the security it has today (don’t even try stalking Elizabeth), so it became quite easy for a lanky teen to sneak into the premises without being caught. One day in 1838, one of the guards sensed some movement and realized that one of the rooms had been ransacked. He sounded the alarm, and soon the sneaky boy was caught. When he was taken to the police, he said he had always wanted to visit the palace and he thought it was a good chance to do so. Naturally, they were moved by his words and set him free. However, some state that the boy had spent a year secretly living in the Palace without being caught. He would walk through the corridors, hide under tables, beds, and chimneys to listen to some of the conversations the young Queen had with her ministers, and whenever he felt hungry, he would cautiously walk into the kitchens and serve himself.
He was not the only one obsessed with the young Queen. Earlier that year, a silversmith was caught sleeping near the Queen's bedroom. He was imprisoned because of his creepiness but was bailed by his friends. When Victoria moved to the palace, it was a management mess. For each simple activity at the palace, there were two groups in charge of doing it. This was even the case of quite easy tasks, such as lighting the fire. One person had to build it and another to light it. You might imagine that the security of the place was as laughable as well. Some newspapers of the time claim that guards would frequently find drunkards sleeping in the gardens. But let’s go back to our teenage boy, considered to be the first true celebrity stalker.
Authorities might have taken him out of the palace and forgiven him, but this poor and filthy adolescent who was really in love or obsessed with the monarch wouldn't give up. He sneaked into the palace two more times, although he stated he had gotten in four times. Because it wasn't an official crime, especially for a young man like Jones, who did not show signs of mental disorder, they couldn’t do anything but release him, until the last time, when guards became really worried about the safety of Prince Albert, whom police thought the teenager would see as a rival. They also feared he could do something to the Queen, like kidnapping her or even shooting her. So, the only way they thought to get rid of him was by sending him to Brazil, but he came back. Then they decided to kidnap and imprison him on a ship. He was trapped there for six years. When he was released, he became a drunkard and a burglar, so finally they were able to deport him to Australia. Still, he managed to return to Britain, until he decided it was best to go back to Australia, where he spent the rest of his days until he fell off a bridge.
The story of the “Boy Jones” was so popular at the time that it even inspired a film in 1950 called The Mudlark. However, the story takes place after Prince Albert’s death, and here the boy and the Queen start a mother-son relationship that helps the monarch move on with her life. In 2010, British author Jan Bondeson published his long investigation on Edward Jones’ life named Queen Victoria's Stalker: The Strange Story of the Boy Jones. No matter how much we think we know about the Victorian era, there’s always something new to learn.
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