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Michael Fagan incident

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael Fagan (born 8 August 1948) is a British man who broke into Buckingham Palace and entered Queen Elizabeth II's bedroom in 1982. The incident was one of the 20th century's worst royal security breaches.

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  • How Did One Man Break Into Buckingham Palace TWICE?


You would think with all those furry-hatted guards wandering around, a team of 24-hour security personnel and her own private police force, whose cars are uniquely painted red by the way, and let us not forget her very own guard corgis. That it would be rather difficult to break into the home of the world’s largest landowner and head-of-state of 16 countries. Surely only a highly trained secret agent could accomplish such a feat. No, this drunken fellow managed it, without any prior planning, not once, but twice. This paragon of plundering is London-born Michael Fagan. Ironically he is the son of a champion safe breaker, but that wasn’t what persuaded him to try his hands at unlawfully entering Buckingham Palace. In interviews he stated he had no motive and had never even considered the break-in before, he had simply gotten drunk at a local pub and was walking home past the palace at 7am when he decided to go for a stroll through the halls of, possibly the world’s most famous residence. Unemployed painter & decorator Michael Fagan made he grand break-in on July 9th 1982 when he was 33-years-old. After leaving the pub, the spritely drunk managed to scale a 14-foot-high wall at the rear of Buckingham Palace’s perimeter. A wall topped with barbed wire and revolving spikes nonetheless. I struggle to climb into bed at 7am after a night in the pub, so Fagan must have really, really wanted to get a glimpse of Queenie to clamber over that. He then shimmied his way up a drainpipe on the rear of the palace and entered through an unlocked window. Fagan then spent a whole 15 minutes wandering the halls of the palace without being seen. One member of the palace’s domestic staff recalls seeing him but afterwards she said she didn’t think he was “sufficiently suspicious” enough to raise an alarm. So presumably one would have to be “outrageously suspicious” before the staff would actually do anything. According to Fagan, after aimlessly wandering the halls he found his way to the royal apartments by “following the pictures” on the walls. Not really sure what he means by that, but I can only imagine there are an increasing number of photos of corgis on the walls as you close in on the royal apartments. First he entered Charles’ room but he was not there, Fagan found half a bottle of white wine of the shelf which he drunk. In an interview Fagan later noted that the wine was “really cheap”. Fagan then snuck into the Queen’s bedroom where he found Her Majesty asleep. Fagan later noted that the bed was large but she was definitely sleeping alone. He ripped the curtains open and she immediately awoke. She sounded her night alarm for help, but the maid in the next room was vacuuming, so neither she nor anyone else on duty heard the Queen’s distress call. So what did Her Majesty do next, well call the police of course. I’d just love to be to be the 999 operator taking a call from the Queen. Well she didn’t actually call the police, she called the palace telephonist who called the police for her. So what did Fagan and Her Majesty the Queen get up to for several awkward minutes whilst she was waiting for the police to arrive? Well she, along with a footman, actually lured Fagan into the pantry with the promise of free cigarettes and a glass of whiskey. The Queen and her footman kept Fagan busy in the pantry with cigarettes and whiskey until the police came and he was arrested. So what was Fagan’s punishment for his dastardly royal intrusion? A lengthy jail sentence? Was he set upon by a pack of ravenous corgis? Nope, he got away completely scot-free. Surprisingly, at that time there were no special laws in place that meant breaking into Buckingham Palace was a serious crime, beyond normal trespassing. Fagan was let go without any charge because under UK law trespassing is not a criminal offence but a civil wrong. The Queen could have taken him to court for damages, if she wanted to, but can you really imagine the Queen in court? She’s far too busy deciding whether she would like her morning omelette made out of quail eggs or duck eggs. The Queen is also exempt from having to legally provide evidence, unlike us meagre peasants. Fagan was however charged for stealing the bottle of wine, since that’s the only thing they had on him, so why the hell not? But the theft charge was dropped because the judge concluded that Fagan was not mentally stable and admitted him to spend six months in a psychiatric hospital. It wasn’t until 2007 when a new law was introduced in the UK which made trespassing on royal or government-owned property a criminal offence. But this wasn’t Fagan’s first expedition inside the Palace, he actually broke in a month earlier too. During his first visit he didn’t meet the Queen but he spent 10 minutes wandering the palace’s vast hallways, staring at paintings. He then found his way to the throne room and sat on the throne for a bit before leaving the palace, completely undetected. But these two Michael Fagan incidents aren’t the first times that Her Majesty’s private quarters have been penetrated. In 2013 a burglar broke into the palace after scaling a wall and kicking a door down, he made his was deep into the palace but was swiftly arrested. Also, in 1981 three German tourists camped in the grounds of Buckingham Palace the entire night, mistaking it for Hyde Park. Philip, I think there’s some Germans in our garden, off with their Hans! …I mean heads.



Early life

Michael Fagan was born in Clerkenwell, London, on 8 August 1948,[1] the son of Ivy and Michael Fagan, who was a steel erector and a "champion safe-breaker". He had two younger sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth. In 1955, he attended Compton Street School in Clerkenwell (now St. Peter & St. Paul RC Primary School). In 1966, he left home at 18 to escape from his father, who, Fagan says, was violent, and started working as a painter and decorator. In 1972, he married Christine, with whom he had four children.[2]


Buckingham Palace (2009)
Buckingham Palace (2009)

First entry

According to his own account, the 9 July 1982 incident was Michael Fagan's second attempted intrusion on the palace; the first happening about a month before.[2] Fagan says he shinnied up the drainpipe, startling a housemaid, who called security. When guards reached the scene, Fagan had disappeared, leading them to believe the housemaid was mistaken. Fagan claims he entered the palace through an unlocked window on the roof and spent the next half-hour eating cheddar cheese and crackers and wandering around. He tripped several alarms, but they were faulty. He claims to have viewed royal portraits and rested for a while on the throne. He also speaks of entering the postroom, where Diana, Princess of Wales, had hidden presents for her son, William, who had only been born the previous month. Fagan said he drank half a bottle of white wine before becoming tired and leaving.[2]

Second entry

At the time of the second incident, 9 July 1982, Michael Fagan was 33 years old and an unemployed decorator whose wife had just left him. At around 7:00am on that day Fagan scaled Buckingham Palace's 14-foot-high (4.3 m) perimeter wall – topped with revolving spikes and barbed wire[3] – and shinned up a drainpipe before wandering into the Queen's bedroom at about 7:15am.[1]

An alarm sensor had detected his prior movements inside the palace but police thought the alarm was faulty and silenced it.[2] Fagan wandered the palace corridors for several minutes before reaching the section where the royal apartments were located. In an anteroom Fagan broke a glass ashtray, cutting his hand. He was still carrying a fragment of the glass when he entered the Queen's bedroom.[1]

The Queen woke when he disturbed a curtain, and initial reports said Fagan sat on the edge of her bed. However, in a 2012 interview, he said she left the room immediately to seek security.[2] She had phoned the palace switchboard twice for police, but none had arrived. Fagan then asked for some cigarettes, which were brought by a maid, who had been cleaning a neighbouring room. The duty footman, Paul Whybrew, who had been walking the Queen's dogs, then appeared, followed by two policemen on palace duty who removed Fagan. The incident had happened as the armed police officer outside the royal bedroom came off duty before his replacement arrived.[3]

A subsequent police report was critical of the competence of officers on duty, as well as a system of confused and divided command.[1]


Since it was then a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence, Fagan was not charged for trespassing in the Queen's bedroom.[4] He was charged with theft (of the wine), but the charges were dropped when he was committed for psychiatric evaluation. In late July, Fagan's 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."[5] He spent the next six 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 his offence became criminal.[6]

Later life

Two years after entering Buckingham Palace, Fagan attacked a policeman at a café in Fishguard, Wales, and was given a three-month suspended jail sentence. In 1983, Fagan recorded a cover version of the Sex Pistols song "God Save The Queen"[7] with British punk band the Bollock Brothers. He was found guilty of indecent exposure in 1987 after he was spotted running around wearing no trousers on waste ground in Chingford, London. In 1997, he was imprisoned for four years after he, his wife and their 20-year-old son were charged with conspiring to supply heroin.[2]

Fagan made an appearance in Channel 4's The Antics Roadshow,[8] an hour-long 2011 TV documentary directed by the British street artist Banksy charting the history of people behaving oddly in public. The palace intrusion was adapted in 2012 for an episode of Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents series entitled Walking the Dogs,[9][10] a one-off British comedy drama starring Emma Thompson as the monarch.

See also


  2. ^ a b c d e f Dugan, Emily (19 February 2012). "Michael Fagan: 'Her nightie was one of those Liberty prints, down to her knees'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Whitelaw launches Palace inquiry", Martin Linton and Martin Wainwright, The Guardian, 13 July 1982
  4. ^ (Dennis J, Baker, Glanville Williams: Textbook of Criminal Law, London, 2012, Sweet & Maxwell at p. 1256)
  5. ^ "God Save the Queen, Fast" Spencer Davidson, Time, 26 July 1982, page 33
  6. ^ "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007". 4 July 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Michael Fagan And The Bollock Brothers - God Save The Queen".
  8. ^ The Antics Roadshow (Channel 4, August 2011)
  9. ^ "Emma Thompson to play the Queen in new drama recreating famous Buckingham Palace intruder", Paul Revoir, Daily Mail, 24 February 2012
  10. ^ "Walking The Dogs - Sky Arts Comedy Drama". British Comedy Guide.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 September 2018, at 06:45
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