In the summer of 1982, one Londoner gained entry into what we would assume is one of the most well-guarded buildings on the planet: Buckingham Palace. In fact, he did it twice, and on the second time he actually entered the bedroom of Queen Elizabeth II and woke the sleeping monarch before she was able to call the police and he was arrested. So who was this master of breaking and entering? A Cold War spy for whom security measures are a mere game? An elite assassin hired by the shady figures running the deep state? A super villain who can walk through walls? Not quite.
According to Town & Country magazine, the mastermind behind the Buckingham Palace break-ins was a painter, decorator, and father of four named Michael Fagan. And he apparently pulled the whole thing off much more easily than you’d think he should have been able to. The second time he did so was after a long night of having a few too many pints at the pub. He simply shimmied up a drain pipe, gaining access to the roof. Fagan tripped the alarm system twice while browsing through King George V’s stamp collection, but still wasn’t caught before making his way into the queen’s sleeping quarters.
Why did Fagan break into Queen Elizabeth's bedroom?
Fagan himself has given differing accounts of why he broke into the queen’s bedroom and what he did when he got there. Their interaction is actually among the several things Netflix’s “The Crown” gets wrong about history. According to Good Housekeeping, the real Michael Fagan accused the show’s writers of taking a bit too much “artistic license” when it came to the character he inspired. In the series, with the queen in her nightie before him, Fagan’s character takes a political stand, complaining about the conservative policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claiming that they were “destroying the country.”
But as Fagan tells it, the real interaction between them was much less eventful. He said they really didn’t speak at all, that the monarch asked him what he was doing there before running out of her room to get help. He told The Independent in 2012 that she quickly ran past him and out of the room, “her little bare feet running across the floor.”
Fagan didn’t even really get in trouble for the deed. Back then, trespassing was a civil, rather than criminal offense, in England, and the queen must not have felt it necessary to press charges. He did spend a few months in a psychiatric hospital afterwards, and later spent four years in prison on drug charges. Fagan reportedly suffered a heart attack and a case of COVID-19 in 2020, but survived both.
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