Michael Fagan: where is Buckingham Palace intruder now, what did he say to the Queen - what happened to him?
‘I can imagine him just wanting to simply talk and say hello and discuss his problems’
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But one night in the early 80s was unlikely to be one of the monarch’s favourite anecdotes to recall.
In the 1970s and 80s, the Queen rejected suggestions that she be surrounded by an American-style security net of ostentatiously armed guards and bullet-proof automobiles. She insisted on seeing and being seen by her people.
She maintained this position despite having the inadequacy of existing security measures demonstrated to her in a shocking occurrence in July 1982.
Intruder Michael Fagan not only scaled the Buckingham Palace wall, as many before him had done, but also gained access to the Palace and the Queen’s chamber.
While keeping the intruder chatting for 10 minutes, the Queen placed two phone calls to the Palace’s own police station, but officers did not arrive until after Fagan had been led away by the Queen’s staff.
Here is everything you need to know about the incident.
How did Fagan break into the Palace?
The July 1982 incident was actually the second of Fagan’s two successful break-ins into Buckingham Palace.
The first came just a month earlier in June, when Fagan claims that he shimmied up a drainpipe, startling a housemaid, who then contacted security.
He had vanished before the guards came, who then dismissed the housemaid’s report.
Fagan claims he then entered the palace through an unlocked window on the roof and spent half-an-hour wandering around while eating cheddar cheese and crackers.
Two alarms were tripped, but police turned them off because they thought that they were malfunctioning, while Fagan admired royal artwork and portrait paintings, sat for “some time” on a throne and visited the Palace postroom.
He claims drank half a bottle of white wine, before succumbing to tiredness and sneaking back out.
The second break-in - and the one during which Fagan ‘met’ the Queen - occured on 9 July 1982.
At approximately 7am Fagan scaled Buckingham Palace’s 14-foot-high perimeter wall, which was topped with rotating spikes and barbed wire.
He then climbed up a drainpipe, and was able to enter the Palace at around 7.15am; an alert sensor registered his movements, but police again thought the device was malfunctioning and turned it off.
Fagan spent many minutes wandering the palace hallways before arriving at the royal rooms.
The intruder wounded his hand when he broke a glass ashtray, and when he entered the Queen’s bedroom, he was still carrying a shard of glass.
The Queen awoke when he disturbed a curtain, and though first reports suggested that Fagan had sat on the edge of the bed., in a 2012 interview, he stated that she quickly left the room to seek security.
She had called the palace switchboard twice for police help, but none had arrived, and it wasn’t until the Queen’s duty footman, Paul Whybrew, appeared followed by two police officers on palace duty, that Fagan was removed.
Fagan was able to gain access to the Queen’s royal quarters because the armed police officer stationed outside the royal bedroom had gone off duty before his replacement arrived.
What did he say to the Queen?
Exactly what, if anything, Fagan said to the Queen has not been confirmed.
But, shortly after the incident, his mother said: "He thinks so much of the Queen. I can imagine him just wanting to simply talk and say hello and discuss his problems."
What happened to Fagan?
Fagan was not charged with trespassing in the Queen’s bedroom because his acts were considered a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence at the time.
He was charged with theft (of the wine), but when he was committed for psychiatric examination, the charges were dismissed.
Fagan spent three months in a psychiatric hospital, before being released on 21 January 1983.
It was not until 2007, when Buckingham Palace became a "designated site" for the purposes of section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, that trespass at the palace became a criminal offence.
Aged 73 in 2022, Michael Fagan is reportedly still living in London.