It was one of the most extraordinary moments of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and one that is still unbelievable 40 years later.
In the summer of 1982, Michael Fagan managed to break into Buckingham Palace more than once, and even ended up in the Queen’s bedroom and spoke to Her Majesty before being taken into custody.
40 years on, where is Michael Fagan now and what happened next?
- Who is Michael Fagan?Michael Fagan in 1983. Picture: GettyMichael Fagan was born in Clerkenwell, London, on August 8, 1948. His father Michael was a steel erector and a “champion safe-breaker.” He also had two younger sisters, Marjorie and Elizabeth.In 1966, he left home at 18 to run away from his father, who Fagan said was violent.He began working as a painter and decorator, and in 1972, he married partner Christine, with whom he had four children.
- When did Michael Fagan break-in to Buckingham Palace?An artist’s impression of the incident. Picture: GettyFagan’s first entry into the palace happened in early June 1982. He said that he shimmied up a drainpipe and scared a housemaid, who called security.However, he had disappeared before the guards arrived, who then didn’t believe the housemaid’s report.He then entered the palace through an unlocked window on the roof, and wandered around for the next 30 minutes while eating cheddar cheese and crackers.Two alarms were tripped, but the police decided to turn them off, believing them to be faulty.While there, he looked at royal portraits and sat on a throne. He also entered the postroom, drank a half bottle of white wine, and then snuck back out.At around 7am on July 9, 1982, Fagan scaled Buckingham Palace’s 14-foot-high perimeter wall, which had revolving spikes and barbed wire, and then climbed up a drainpipe before finding his way into the Queen’s bedroom at about 7.15am.An alarm sensor had detected him inside the palace, but police again thought the alarm was faulty and silenced it.The Queen And Prince Philip in 1982. Picture: GettyDuring his visit, he broke a glass ashtray, cutting his hand. The Queen woke when he moved a curtain, and reports at the time claimed that he sat on the edge of her bed.However, speaking in 2012, he said she left the room immediately to find security. She is believed to have said “What are you doing here?” before getting out the room.The Queen phoned the palace switchboard twice for police, but none arrived. The duty footman, Paul Whybrew, who had been walking the Queen’s dogs, finally appeared, followed by two policemen, who removed Fagan.A police report heavily criticised of the officers on duty and the security systems in place.
- What happened to Michael Fagan?https://www.youtube.com/embed/YabdsTM3HBw?enablejsapi=1After the palace break-ins, Michael Fagan was only charged with the theft of wine.Back then, trespassing was only a civil offense rather than a criminal one.Soon after, Fagan received a psychiatric evaluation, and spent three months in a psychiatric hospital.However, Fagan did go on to commit more crimes. He attacked a Welsh police officer in 1984, and three years later, he was found guilty of indecent exposure.In 1997, Fagan, his wife, and their 20-year-old son were charged with conspiring to sell heroin. He served four years in prison.
- Where is Michael Fagan now?Aged 73 in 2022, Michael Fagan is reportedly still living in London.He had a heart attack and had COVID-19 in 2020.Speaking to The Sun, he said that he did not have any regrets for his palace visits: “People who have done marvellous things get to kneel in front of her to be honoured.”But I actually sat on her bed and almost got to talk to her.”