Michael Fagan incident
Michael Fagan (born 1951) was an intruder who broke into Buckingham Palace in Central London and entered the Queen's bedchamber in the early hours of 9 July 1982. The unemployed father of four children managed to evade electronic alarms as well as both palace and police guards.
It was the 31-year-old's second attempt to break into Buckingham Palace that was successful. On his first attempt he scaled a drainpipe, briefly startling a housemaid who called security. But upon returning to the scene, Fagan had disappeared, leading security to believe the housemaid was mistaken. Fagan entered 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 viewed the royal portraits and rested on the throne for a while. He then entered the postroom, where Diana, Princess of Wales had hidden presents for her first son, William. Fagan drank half a bottle of white wine before becoming tired and leaving.
On the second attempt, an alarm sensor detected him. A member of the palace staff thought the alarm was faulty, and silenced it. En route to see the Queen, Fagan broke a glass ashtray, lacerating his hand.
The Queen woke when he disturbed a curtain, and initial reports had Fagan sitting on the edge of her bed talking to her for about ten minutes. But in a 2012 interview, he clarified that she in fact left the room immediately, seeking security. She phoned twice for police but none came. Fagan then asked for some cigarettes, which were brought by a maid. When the maid did not return to base for some time, footman Paul Whybrew appeared. The incident happened as the armed police officer outside the royal bedroom came off duty before his replacement arrived. He had been out walking the Queen's Corgis.
Since it was then a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence, Michael Fagan was not charged for trespassing in the Queen's bedroom. He was charged with theft (of the half bottle of wine), but the charges were dropped when he was committed for psychiatric evaluation. He spent the next six months in a mental 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 what he did became criminal. Fagan's mother later said, "He thinks so much of the Queen. I can imagine him just wanting to simply talk and say hello and discuss his problems."
Similar incidents of undetected entry to the palace have happened before and since, including several spectacular intrusions by "the boy Jones" in the first years of the reign of Queen Victoria and a Fathers 4 Justice protester scaling the walls and unveiling a banner, while dressed as Batman, in September 2004.
Trinidadian singer Mighty Sparrow was inspired by the incident when he wrote his song "Man in de Bedroom," also known as "Phillip, my Dear," an instant hit and a classic of the calypso repertoire.
Jamaican reggae singer Eek-A-Mouse referenced the incident in the song "Queen Elizabeth" on his 1984 album "Mouseketeer".
The incident is referred to in The Smiths song The Queen is Dead in the lines "So I broke into the Palace, With a Sponge and a rusty spanner, She said 'Eh, I know you and you cannot sing', I said that's nothing - you should hear me play piano"
A fictionalized version of the incident is the subject of "Walking the Dogs", an episode of the anthology television series Playhouse Presents which aired on Sky Arts on May 31, 2012, several days before the official celebrations of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. Emma Thompson played the Queen and Eddie Marsan played "The Intruder", who was not named in the episode.
In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Adrian’s father’s reaction to the news that a man broke into the Queen’s bedroom was “That’s her story.”
- Davidson, Spencer. "God Save the Queen, Fast", Time (July 26, 1982), page 33.
- Wilson, Colin (2004). The World's Greatest True Crime. Angaston: Magpie Books. ISBN 1-84119-858-7. pp 447-450.
- Rogal, Kim and Ronald Henkoff. "Intruder at the Palace", Newsweek (July 26, 1982), pp. 38-39.
- "BBC ON THIS DAY | 9 | 1982: Queen fends off bedroom intruder". BBC News. 1982-07-09. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "Michael Fagan: 'Her nightie was one of those Liberty prints, down to her knees'" Independent on Sunday 19 February 2012 Retrieved 23 February 2012
- (Dennis J, Baker, Glanville Williams: Textbook of Criminal Law, London, 2012, Sweet & Maxwell at p. 1256)
- "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007". Statutelaw.gov.uk. 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2013-06-07.