While all eyes will soon be focused on the Wedding of the Century, a book which exposes the Queen’s role in keeping prisoners behind bars indefinitely is steaming up the e-book popularity list. The A-Z of Punishment and Torture is beating Bewrite Books’ record, outselling all other ebook editions in its catalogue over the past decade. My publisher thinks the nuptials looks suspiciously like a diversionary tactic on the part of the House of Windsor! After all, what would the Royal bride think of a mother-in-law who is part of the quaint tradition of holding people in custody until the fancy takes her to let them go?
To be fair, the system of indeterminate incarceration, originally known as ‘Detention At His Majesty’s Pleasure’, was written into the statute books in 1800 by an Act of the British Parliament during the reign of George III. It became better known as ‘Queen’s Pleasure’ because for most of the 2010 years since, the turnkeys have been women – Queen Victoria for sixty-four years and the reigning Queen Elizabeth II for the past fifty-eight.
The A-Z is a catalogue of cruelty, but often humour and horror sit side by side - the first gibbets chopped off heads with such vigour that they often bounced like balls into the spectators.
Of course, kings and queens have been known to wield their power to punish in all manner of ways over the centuries. Fortunately, things are different now but it’s always interesting to have a peek among the family skeletons. What do you buy the happy couple who have everything? Ah, now I know what to send them!