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The term "whipping boy" has been used by sportswriters to describe the bottom of the table team for decades.

The term was popularised by Mark Twain in his story, The Prince and the Pauper, the Times reports.

The story goes that Edward VI and Charles I could not be punished by their teachers, because of their royal status.

Instead, they were taught alongside another boy, who would be whipped in the event of royal disobedience.

It was hoped the royals would feel compassion for the boy, receiving uncalled for punishment, and amend their behaviour.

Here's an extract from The Prince and the Pauper, detailing an exchange between the two:

Picture:Picture: Dover Publications, Inc.

The Times reports that these origins are backed up by sources like the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces.

The BBC, however, removed the explanation from BBC Bitesize for children aged 11-14 after acknowledging it was probably invented by Samuel Rowley, a 17th century playwright, following a complaint about a lack of primary evidence.

Chris Skidmore, who wrote Edward VI: The Lost King of England, told the Times...

that there was no primary evidence of royal whipping boys and the role probably never existed.

HT Times

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