Queen Victoria’s Security Sucked
The young Queen Victoria charmed Britain when she ascended the throne. Her two predecessors, her uncles, had been old, ineffectual, and corrupt, while their predecessor, the Mad King George III, had been, well… mad. Victoria arrived as a breath of fresh air: a young, pretty, innocent, and clean new slate. Admirers tossed letters into her carriage, the bolder ones visited the palace with marriage proposals, and the creepier ones stalked her. Britain’s royal household bureaucracy was inept. When Victoria once asked a servant for a fire, she was told his job was to arrange and prepare the wood for a fire. A separate department was responsible for actually lighting it. In another example, cleaning palace windows was divided between two departments, one to clean the outside, another for the inside.
Security was also inept. Buckingham Palace had low walls topped with tree branches, and lax guards. Drunks and the homeless were often found sleeping in the garden, propped up against the inner wall or passed out beneath the trees. Staggering drunks had little trouble getting into the palace grounds to sleep off a bender in the royal garden. Less innocent interlopers, such as stalkers, easily progressed past the garden, and into the royal palace. Such was the case with silversmith Thomas Flower. One of Victoria’s persistent admirers, he was found sleeping in a chair near the queen’s bedroom in the summer of 1838. He entered the palace, then wandered around for hours trying to find the queen. Finally, after he tired of the search, Flower fell asleep. He was arrested and imprisoned, until friends bailed him out for £50.