a guest at her majesty's


Senior Member
Hi again!

If a villain is described as having been a guest at her majesty's for the past years, does it mean that he's been in prison? Or something else perhaps? Perhaps it could be added that he is pretending to be a priest, is trying to get his hands on some antiques and is accused of a murder. I don't know whether these facts give you some extra information or not. Thanks!
  • Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    This is a shortened form of 'at Her Majesty's pleasure', a phrase used to describe the length of a criminal's sentence while in prison in Britain or Commonwealth countries...


    Britain, English
    Your first guess was right. This is a light-hearted way of saying that the person has been in prison. This is because, like many other public services in Britian, the prison service is known offficially as "Her Majesty's Prison Service'.


    Senior Member
    We have similar phrases in American English:

    ...a guest of the city/county/state/Uncle Sam...

    (Uncle Sam is the personification of the federal government in the U.S.)


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For clarification ...

    A guest of Her Majesty has been explained.
    The topic phrase seems to be a confusion betweeen that and at Her Majesty's pleasure.
    This has a very specific meaning - that the prisoner is detained for an indefinite period.
    Prisoners held at Her Majesty's pleasure are frequently reviewed to determine whether their sentence can be deemed complete; although this power traditionally rested with the monarch, such reviews are now made by the Home Secretary. Minimum terms are also set, before which the prisoner cannot be released; these were originally set by the Home Secretary, but since 30 November 2000 have been set by the trial judge. Prisoners' sentences are typically deemed to be complete when the reviewing body is "satisfied that there has been a significant change in the offender's attitude and behaviour."
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