In 2019, I appeared in every episode of Private Lives broadcast on UKTV’s Yesterday channel in the UKTV and other channels around the world such as the Smithsonian. Historical subjects included Napoleon and Hitler.
Presented by Tracy Borman, curator of the Royal Palaces in England. I covered the private lives of six fascinating historical characters:
Princess Margaret – the late sister of the present Queen Elizabeth II. Margaret never stuck to the rules and caused constant scandal during her life. She’s featured in the Netflix series The Crown
Edward VIII – the king of England who gave up his throne to marry an American commoner and divorcee Wallis Simpson. The British Empire was rocked by Edward’s decision but what really lay behind it?
Napoleon – the diminutive French emperor who conquered most of Europe but was destroyed in his attempt to take Russia. His passionate affairs, tempestuous marriage and crushing defeat by the English exposed
Hitler – you’d think there was nothing left to say about Hitler but we delve into his fascination for teenage girls, frustrated artistic ambitions and the corrupt ambition that brought him down
Al Capone – the gangster known as Scarface terrorised Chicago but also had a great many admirers. The establishment seemed powerless to act as this street punk made vast profits from racketeering but eventually they got him on tax evasion
Peter the Great – the mightiest tsar that ever ruled Russia. A very odd character who loved dwarves, heavy drinking and women. His parties were notorious. His cruelty, even to close family, was highly disturbing.
Happy viewing – and hope you learn more about Napoleon and Hitler!!
What would possess any sane teenager to break into Buckingham Palace and steal the underwear of the reigning monarch. Queen Victoria has to suffer the indignity of a mischievous youth referred to as Boy Jones who kept doing exactly that.
Boy Jones had boasted many times to his workmates that he was going to stage a break in at the palace. Nobody really expected him to do it until….he was caught red handed, in the queen’s private chambers with her knickers stuffed down his front.
Why he targeted that particular garment – I’ll leave to your imagination. At the time, Queen Victoria was still a young woman of child bearing age. Not the dumpy old lady we see celebrated on countless statues and images. But a vivacious character deeply in love with Prince Albert.
Boy Jones and Queen Victoria
By all accounts, Jones was a very filthy and pretty ugly specimen. He was apparently mistaken for the chimney sweep. It’s not known exactly how many times he got into the palace but it’s like to have been more than the three times he confessed to.
Scaling the walls became a strange obsession. It was a pattern of behaviour he didn’t seem able to break. Maybe he came to believe he had some kind of special relationship with the queen having got so close. And not even a spell in prison could stop the Boy Jones from coming back for more.
There were repeated attempts by the authorities to get rid of him – normally bundling Jones on to a ship bound for somewhere far away. But he kept returning.
Eventually, he ended up in Australia working as the town crier in Perth and with a big alcohol problem. It was during a drunk episode that he fell from a bridge and was sadly killed.
Here I am on UKTV’s Private Lives of the Monarchs discussing Jones: