Michael Fagan (intruder)

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Michael Fagan (born 8 August 1948) is a British man who entered the Queen's bedroom in Buckingham Palace in 1982.


Early life[edit]

Michael Fagan was born in Clerkenwell, London, on 8 August 1948,[1] the son of Ivy and Michael Fagan.[2] His father was a steel erector and a "champion safe-breaker." He had two younger sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth.[2] 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. He started working as a painter and decorator. In 1972, he married Christine, with whom he had four children.[2]


First entry[edit]

Buckingham Palace, pictured in 1980

According to his own account, the 9 July 1982 incident was Fagan's second intrusion on the palace. The first happened about a month before.[2] Fagan says he shimmied 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 spoke of entering the postroom, where Diana, Princess of Wales, had hidden presents for her son, William, who had been born the previous month. Fagan said he drank half a bottle of white wine before becoming tired and leaving.[2]

Second entry[edit]

At around 7:00 am on 9 July 1982, Fagan scaled Buckingham Palace's 14-foot-high (4.3 m) perimeter wall, which was topped with revolving spikes and barbed wire,[3] and climbed up a drainpipe before wandering into the Queen's bedroom at about 7:15 am.[1]

An alarm sensor had detected his 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. 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 Fagan's actions were, at the time, a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence, he was not charged with 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 three months in a psychiatric hospital[6] before being released on 21 January 1983.[7]

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 such an offence as his became criminal.[8]

Later life[edit]

Two years after entering Buckingham Palace, Fagan attacked a policeman at a café in Fishguard, Wales, and was given a three-month suspended sentence.[citation needed] In 1983, Fagan recorded a cover version of the Sex Pistols song "God Save the Queen" with punk band the Bollock Brothers.[9] 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,[10] an hour-long 2011 TV documentary directed by the artist Banksy charting the history of people behaving oddly in public.

In fiction[edit]

The intrusion was adapted in 2012 for an episode of Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents series entitled Walking the Dogs, a one-off British comedy drama featuring Emma Thompson as the Queen.[11] In 2020, Tom Brooke played a fictionalized[12] Fagan in season 4 of The Crown.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Text of Scotland Yard's Report On July 9 Intrusion into Buckingham Palace (Published 1982)". NYTimes.com. 22 July 1982.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Dugan, Emily (19 February 2012). "Michael Fagan: 'Her nightie was one of those Liberty prints, down to her knees'". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b Linton, Martin; Wainwright, Martin (13 July 1982). "Whitelaw launches Palace inquiry". TheGuardian.com.
  4. ^ (Dennis J, Baker, Glanville Williams: Textbook of Criminal Law, London, 2012, Sweet & Maxwell at p. 1256)
  5. ^ Davidson, Spencer (26 July 1982). "Britain: God Save the Queen, Fast". Time.com. p. 33. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Queen's bedroom intruder describes moment he broke in - and the 'shoddy' decor", by Emily Retter, in The Mirror, 19 November 2020
  7. ^ "Buckingham Palace intruder Michael Fagan: what happened and why did he break in?". BBC History Magazine. 10 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007". Statutelaw.gov.uk. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  9. ^ "God Save the Queen" at Discogs
  10. ^ "The Antics Roadshow". The Antics Roadshow. Episode 1. August 2011. Channel 4. Archived from the original on 12 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Walking The Dogs - Sky Arts Comedy Drama". British Comedy Guide.
  12. ^ "The Crown, magic mushrooms and the truth behind Michael Fagan's palace break-in". The Guardian. 17 November 2020. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  13. ^ "The Crown season 4: Palace intruder Michael Fagan 'wasn't consulted' over incident depiction". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2020.