In 1838, a scruffy 14-year-old boy named Edward Jones sneaked into Buckingham Palace and stole a pair of Queen Victoria’s underwear.

Edward entered through an unfastened window and wandered around in the many-roomed building. He had smeared himself with bear grease and soot and had the appearance of a chimney sweep, so aroused little notice. However, when a porter in the Marble Hall saw him, a chase ensued, and he was captured by police. He had two stolen letters on him, and the Queen’s underwear stuffed down his pants. Inside the lobby was found a regimental sword and a pile of linen that he evidently planned to make off with.

The lad was taken to court, where his lawyer made such a joke of the situation that Edward — being referred to as the boy Jones — was acquitted.

Two years later, he broke in again. There were so many people about, he feared detection and left. The next night, however, he returned and was in the palace for more than 24 hours. He entered around 9 p.m. on a Tuesday and spent the rest of the night as well as all of Wednesday sneaking about, hiding under beds and behind furniture, listening to conversations, and stealing food.

Around midnight Wednesday, a nurse reported that she’d heard a noise. A number of staff went to investigate and found Edward hiding under a sofa in the Queen’s dressing room — the very sofa the Queen had sat on not two hours earlier.

He was dragged out and arrested. This time the court sentenced him to three months in a house of correction.

There was much concern over the incident. An intruder had been in the room next to where the Queen slept. Also, the Queen had recently given birth to her first child, and it was feared the situation might cause her additional stress and thus endanger her health.

When he got out of prison, Edward sneaked back into the palace, managed yet again to get into the royal apartments, and had a snack. He was caught by palace guards and the court upped the ante by sentencing him to three months of hard labor.

Hard labor consisted of walking on a stepped treadmill for six or more hours a day to pump water or grind grain. It was brutally exhausting, prisoners gutting out 13,000 to 18,000 steps during a shift.

After he got out, Edward was found loitering near the castle, so he was pressed into the navy.

From there, things become murky. Some say he was kidnapped and placed on a prison ship that stayed at sea for six years.

We know that Edward eventually ended up in Australia, where he became the town crier of Perth. To avoid ridicule because of the misdeeds of his youth, he changed his name from Edward Jones to Thomas Jones. In 1893 — more than fifty years after his Buckingham Palace escapades — Edward died from a drunken stumble off the parapet of a bridge.


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