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True crime. Casually done.

Michael Fagan: The Buckingham Palace Prowler

As a somewhat bigoted Scot of the independence persuasion, one thing I can’t wrap my head around is you Southerners’ love your bloody royals. Always throwing them parades, singing about them, talking about their babies, collecting little cups and teaspoons with their faces on them. You lot are obsessed. 

And so, naturally, you’d expect that quite a lot of time and money has been put into protecting those beloved blue bloods from harm, right? Wrong. As it turns out, this was once very far from the case, as proven by one infamous incident from the summer 1982. It was then, against a backdrop of mounting civil unrest, that Buckingham Palace suffered one of the biggest security breaches in modern history, which could have put the head of the British’s Empire’s very life in danger! 

This is the story of how one man, with nothing but his wits and a touch of drugged-up derangement, managed to break into one of the most sacred places in England: her Royal Highness’ bedchamber. 

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A Rude Awakening 

Now, after indulging in a bit of light stereotyping with that intro, I should add I’ve got nothing against Her Majesty personally. The old bird has been through a lot in her tenure as our undisputed God Empress: almost 70 full years of wars, political upheaval, and very public family issues (looking at you, Prince Andrew).

Even when compared to all that, what happened at 7:15am on July 9th 1982 would undoubtedly prove one of the strangest and most unsettling episodes in her reign. Our most-likely immortal head of state had just turned 56 at the time, well into what would be one of the toughest eras of her reign.

It was a summer morning much like any other; the security guard posted to Her Majesty’s door had clocked off as usual at 6am, while one of her top footmen took the corgis out for a walk, and an overworked maid was cleaning out some of the 240 bedrooms.

The Queen herself was sitting up in bed, mulling over what to do with the day (‘Maybe I’ll have my jester dance for scraps of meat — maybe I’ll bomb some more of those pesky Argies’). Her queenly musings were rudely interrupted by the creaking of the door hinges. Her Majesty snapped to attention, her view of the door obscured by a velvet curtain drawn around her bed, which seconds later was dragged to the side…

…to reveal… some guy. Some guy standing there without any shoes, and blood dripping from one hand… In that same hand, was a shiv made of glass. Queenie froze, then exclaimed, in the poshest voice imaginable:

“Wawrt are you doing here?!’”

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The Palace Prowler: Origins

So, wawrt was he doing there? Who was this wild-eyed maniac, that now had one of the most powerful people in the world at his mercy? Well, I really meant it when I described him as just ‘some guy’ — not some KGB agent or IRA hitman, far from it. 

His name was Michael Fagan, and he was an out-of-work painter-decorator from Islington, London.  The oldest child of a working class family, the 30-year-old was a father of four, recently separated from his wife. 

Frustrated and at a loss, he had taken to wandering around the streets of the capitol at night, with a can of lager in hand, searching for a sense of purpose. On one such night, he just so happened to wander down to the City of Westminster, past the residence of the Windsor family.

It was still early in the morning, and the area around Buckingham Palace was empty. It would be several hours yet before the crowds of tourists arrived to prod those guards in the big daft hats. Michael had the streets all to himself. 

He looked up at the splendour of the sprawling palace in the early light of dawn — all 775 rooms of Great British glory — and a bold notion came to him: ‘I bet I could climb that.’

Moments later, he was clambering over the wrought iron perimeter fence. Completely unseen, he climbed up 14 feet to the top of the fence, heaved himself over the barbed wire on top, and swaggered across the palace lawn. With the strength and bravado that only cheap Tesco lager gan give, he scrambled over 70 feet up a drainpipe, to an open window on the upper floors.

Unfortunately, said window led to the bedroom of a chambermaid, who screamed as she saw his charming face pop over her window sill. Thinking on his feet, Fagan scrambled through the window while the maid ran for help, and found a hiding spot in one of the rooms adjacent. By the time they arrived, our man was safely concealed, and the chambermaid — like a video game NPC with terrible AI — declared “Hmm, I must have been imagining things.”

The police chalked her sighting up to an overactive imagination, on account of the fact she had attended a seance several nights before. As I often feel compelled to say: no, I am not making this up. 

Afterwards Fagan, in his jeans and lager-stained sweatshirt, was able to wander through the palace unrestricted. He would later tell a courtroom: “I walked straight in. I was surprised I wasn’t captured straight away. I could have been a rapist or something. I knew I could break the security system because it was so weak.”

The amazing thing was, he was right. Fagan was able to swagger around the halls with impunity, right into some of the most sensitive areas of the palace. After a few minutes of wandering around the literal home of the British royal family, he happened across a corridor with the names of royal princes and princesses on the doors. 

And for a place meant to house royalty, it was pretty… underwhelming… Fagan said the palace was “very ordinary,” with dusty decorations and squeaky floorboards: “I don’t think they spent too much on decoration.” Bit embarrassing for the Queen that an unemployed bloke from Islington thought her house was a bit shit. 

As he wandered past the bedrooms of some of the most powerful royals in Britain — Princess Anne, Prince Charles, Princess Dianna (yes, apparently royal couples sleep in separate bedrooms) — he started to wonder how in the hell he hadn’t been caught yet. No alarms, no cameras, no armed bodyguards; you’d come up against stronger security at the average council estate flats. But for the moment, he had bigger concerns than that:

“I found rooms saying ‘Diana’s room’, ‘Charles’s room’; they all had names on them. But I couldn’t find a door which said ‘WC’”

All those bedrooms, but no toilet in sight. And old Mikey had been hitting the lager pretty heavily all night — the situation was getting urgent. Not wanting to sully the palace by pissing on the dusty old floor, he searched around frantically for a discrete and dignified place to relieve himself… he failed: 

“All I found were some bins with ‘corgi food’ written on them. I was breaking my neck to go to the toilet. What do I do? Pee on the carpet? So I had to pee on the corgi food.”

Suuuurely that’s got to be some kind of treason, no? Those dogs must have some kind of noble title or something that makes it illegal to piss on their breakfast. And I love the way he makes it sound like the only reasonable, logical decision too. ‘I couldn’t find the toilet, so I had to piss in the dog food’. That’s the kind of logic that only makes sense to the most hammered guy at a house party.

Anyway, after dealing with his most immediate problem, Fagan turned his mind onto what to do next. He didn’t want to disturb any slumbering royals, but he was curious to have a peek behind some of these doors. 

Picking one of them for a look, he wandered into the office of the royal secretary, where a pile of gifts sat on top of the desk. As it turned out, he had broken in just two weeks before the birth of future king of England, Prince William (for our non-British listeners, that’s the taller, gawkier one — not the ginger one with the film star wife). 

Among the gifts for the baby boy and his parents was a bottle of wine for dad-to-be Prince Charles. With the adrenaline starting to dull his buzz, Michael thought to himself “I’ll have that.” He searched around for a corkscrew, to no avail, so he just pushed the cork inside and swigged straight from the bottle. To his disappointment, their taste in wine was as poor as their taste in decor: “it was a cheap Californian,” he later told the Independent.

Bottle in hand, Lord Mike the madlad continued on his adventure, into what he called a ‘throne room’ with three gilded chairs laid out in a row in front of him. So he did what every one of us would do in that situation: “I sat on the thrones like Goldilocks and the three bears.”

Sat on a literal throne, perusing millions of pounds worth of royal art hanging on the walls, sipping on cheap wine and munching on tidbits from the royal cheese stash, the intruder started to think ‘right, this is getting a bit silly now.’ Imagine waltzing through the White House in the early morning, drinking Ronald Reagan’s vodka and playing around with the big red button on his desk. Just wouldn’t happen. 

“I drank [the wine] because I was waiting for someone to come. I couldn’t find anyone. Sod it’ and I went out and went home.”

He was actively trying to hand himself over, but even then he couldn’t find anyone to report himself to. So, several hours into his illegal adventure in the royal palace, a bemused Fagan just retraced his steps back to the open window, slid down the drainpipe, hopped back over the fence, and went home to rest. 

He had come and gone from the palace completely unhindered; the only sign of his visit was an empty bottle of wine, left on the corridor floor (I’m assuming one of the serfs got a few lashings for that). What you’ll no doubt have noticed, is that on this visit, he never met the Queen. Where was the part with the glass shiv and the blood?

Well, that dramatic little episode is still coming up. See, either Michael Fagan had maxed out his stealth stats, or the security at Buckingham Palace back in the 1980s was among the absolute worst in the world, because he was actually able to make it inside multiple times. 

Buckingham Palace, pictured in 1980
Buckingham Palace, pictured in 1980. By Johnckarnes, is licensed under CC-BY-SA

That little wine and cheese party I just described was only the first of two entries, and if he had left it at that, nobody would have ever known anything of it! The name of Michael Fagan would be absent from the history books, and he’d have spent the rest of his days desperately trying to convince people of his wild story down the pub. 

But as things turned out, he wasn’t able to stay away, and his story would soon be plastered on the front page of every newspaper in the land…

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A Royal Appointment

That first break-in I just described happened on June 7th 1982, and it signalled the start of a very busy summer for Fagan. Just three days after chugging down cheap royal wine at the palace, he continued on with his complete mental breakdown in spectacular fashion: he nicked a car in Islington in an attempt to drive up to Stonehenge and track down his estranged wife.

His mission was unsuccessful, and only landed him a spot in Brixton Jail for the next three weeks (quite the contrast to a royal palace, I’ll bet). While on the inside, Fagan cast his mind back to the palace, and started to wonder what other discoveries might lie behind all those hundreds of closed doors; what else might he be able to get away with? In his own words:

“I went back because I thought ‘that’s naughty, that’s naughty that I can walk round there.'”

Very naughty indeed, Michael. Call it curiosity, call it a full-blown mental unwinding, call it whatever you want. Whatever the case, Michael Fagan was dead set on getting into that palace again. And so when his family came to pick him up, a free man on bail from Brixton jail, he set his mind on returning. 

When his family came to pick him up at the prison gates, and asked what he would do with his freedom after three weeks locked up, he told them he was going to visit his “girlfriend, Elizabeth Regina”…

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The second break-in was, if you could imagine it, even more ridiculous than the first. This time Fagan approached the palace a little later, at about 6:45am on July 9th. His plan should have fallen apart right away, when a policeman on street patrol spotted this dishevelled drunk bloke scrambling up the palace fence. The officer radioed it in to the palace police post and just… got on with his day: ‘not my palace, not my problem.’

Apparently everyone else was as laissez faire about drunk men wandering the grounds as he was, because nobody at the palace followed up on the reports. Not even when Michael Fagan once again strolled across the palace lawn and hauled himself up a drainpipe. Not even when he tumbled through an unlocked window to the gallery of the royal stamp collection, triggering an alarm as he fell to the floor.

The guards on duty just instantly assumed it must have been a false alarm, and switched it off. These were no ordinary stamps either: Lizzie’s stamps are estimated at a combined $100 million value! 

Fagan could’ve made off with a fortune in little sticky pictures of stuff, but his mission wasn’t about theft. He tried the doors out of the stamp museum, and found them all locked. So instead, he climbed back out the window, and continued up the drainpipe all the way to the palace roof. 

There he decided to take off his sandals and socks, which is the one part of the story I can find absolutely no explanation for (which means it’s the one thing I’m obsessing over most). After inexplicably and continuing on barefoot, he strolled across the roof tiles to an open window which led to the office of Sir Peter Ashmore — ex-vice admiral and master of the household. 

Thankfully for Fagan, the master wasn’t in at the moment, so he was free to potter around his room as long as he pleased. While simple curiosity might have been what inspired him to go back, Fagan was also wrestling with some deeper stuff at the time. In the ex-admiral’s office, some darker ideas began to creep into his mind. Yes, darker than pissing in dog food.

Fagan spotted a glass ashtray on the desk, and decided to smash it on the floor, cutting his hand in the process. He grabbed the thickest, sharpest piece, and stepped out into the corridor, dead set on finding the bedroom of Her Majesty. Obviously Fagan had no idea where in the palace to find the Queen’s bedroom, but he knew he probably had as much time as he needed. 

“I was walking barefoot through the palace [he’d lost his shoes on the roof] and there was a woman doing the hoovering. She didn’t say anything. She just looked at me and must have thought I was part of the palace staff.”

‘Oh yeah, that’s just the shoeless guy who comes to fix the plumbing with a bloodied shard of glass.’ Again, someone really has to fix the AI of these NPCs. Without a minimap to help him, Fagan had to devise his own navigation system, using the paintings on the walls. I’m assuming by that he meant: the fancier the paintings, the closer to the Queen’s quarters he was. 

Along the way, he managed to trip yet another intruder alarm, which was promptly deactivated by the guards. After about 15 minutes of searching, he found the room he was looking for, partly down to dumb luck: “There are 700 rooms in the palace and the first one I went in was her bedroom.”

Even though the room was labelled as such, Fagan couldn’t quite believe that such a normal little bedroom would house the most powerful person in the country. The nondescript brown door in no way fit his expectations of a royal bedroom — no jewels or gilded frame. 

He carefully turned the handle, and eased himself inside. The room was small — far too small for a monarch, he thought — but there was definitely someone in there. A curtain covered the bed, but he could see the silhouette of someone lounging back against the pillows behind it.

Again, he thought it was too small for a monarch: surely the queen was taller than that (spoiler: our minuscule monarch is a little over 5’ 3”). He crept over slowly, so as not to wake whoever it was sleeping there. He thought about turning back, and sliding out the door again, but curiosity got the better of him.

Fagan, shifted the curtain to the side for a peek. To his surprise, it was in fact the Queen. And even more to his surprise, she wasn’t sleeping! A stunned Lizzie sat bolt upright and looked the trespasser right in the eye. 

The two of them were just as startled as each other. Michael Fagan, stood there with no shoes and blood dripping from his hand, and the Queen of Britain, sitting on the bed in her nightgown (right where we left them at the beginning of the story).

Now, about that shard of glass: was Michael Fagan planning on assassinating the Queen in the style of a prison vendetta? Not quite: the shiv was meant for himself; being in quite a dark place emotionally, Fagan planned on slashing his own wrists in front of Her Majesty! But when the moment arrived, that notion evaporated. He was stuck like a deer in headlights. 

After a few seconds, Her Majesty blurted out: “Wawrt are you doing here?!’” Which is a reasonable question when anyone breaks into your bedroom, royal or not. Fagan was dumbstruck. The Queen tried pressing the emergency bell by her bed, but her police guard on the door had clocked off at 6am, as per established protocol. 

According to Lizzie’s own account, she even tried calling the palace police on the phone, but since she maintained her usual calm and collected demeanour, they never treated it with much urgency! Seriously, at this point the IRA must have been kicking themselves that they never had the idea first (it’s almost as if her protectors wanted something terrible to happen to her). 

With no help immediately available, Queen Elizabeth II then, as Fagan later explained, “went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor.” 

That our Goldilocks alone in the Queen’s bedroom, with a few spare moments to once again digest how seemingly normal and uninspiring royal life was: “She never had a four-poster bed. And she’s got a little thing where she does her teas and coffees.” (Just in case you’ve ever wondered about these things).

At least this time, Michael Fagan wouldn’t have to search for someone to turn himself in to. The Queen had finally managed to summon some help, and they were on their way back to apprehend the intruder. Had this story unfolded over the other end of the Atlantic, a dozen Secret Service agents would’ve swarmed the room and blasted a couple hundred rounds into our kindly drunk.

But in Britain, we do things a little less cinematic than that: more Downton Abbey than White House Down. Without her police guard, the Queen’s only line of defence against killers and kidnappers was a polite manservant and a few fat little Welsh dogs. As she ran down the corridor, Elizabeth’s head footman was just returning from walking the corgis; she took the dogs off his hands, and sent him in to deal with Fagan. 

As our intruder tells it: “Then a footman comes in and goes, ‘Cor, fucking hell mate, you look like you need a drink’”…

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The Aftermath

That footman could teach a masterclass on de-escalation: offer a drunk guy a whisky, and he’ll be your best mate. And I’m happy to tell you, he did get that drink:

“His name was [Paul] Whybrew, which is a funny name for someone offering you a drink, innit? He took me to the Queen’s pantry, across the landing, where I presume she cooks her baked beans and toast and whatever – and takes a bottle of Famous Grouse […] I was shocked.”

Another pair of devastating blows to the royals that the unemployed bloke from Islington thought their bedrooms and whiskey were a bit shit as well. After a few more swigs of Grouse and a chat with the footman, two comically inept palace police officers finally arrived to carry out the formalities: 

“I don’t think they’d arrested anyone for years. When one pulled out his notebook the other was so relieved he had it. I think they were just old boys who stood on the gate and let cars in. It was a cushty retirement job.”

Once the two old bobbies remembered how to use the handcuffs, they took Fagan into custody and led him off the premises. He never did get to say goodbye to old Lizzie. 

Once he was at the police station, that’s when the somewhat confusing part began. See, you’d expect that breaking into the Queen’s bedroom with a stabbing implement would be a pretty serious offence. 

However, when the cops tried to figure out what to charge Michael Fagan with later that morning, they concluded that he hadn’t actually committed any criminal offences at all. Rather than ‘breaking and entering’, his little excursion legally fell under the less severe charge of ‘trespassing’. At the time, this was only a civil offence, so Fagan was never actually charged with a crime!

Well, I lied a little bit: after confessing to the first break-in and appearing at the Old Bailey, they did actually charge him with theft, for drinking Prince Charles’ wine… which seems extremely petty compared to what I was expecting. In the end, even that charge was dropped when Michael was admitted for a long-overdue psychiatric evaluation, and ended up spending three months in a secure mental health facility.

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While Michael was working through his mental breakdown in a more controlled and secure manner, the media was doing the opposite: absolutely losing their minds over his story. Michael was dubbed the ‘Palace Prowler’, and the public couldn’t quite agree on whether he was a dangerous traitor, or an absolute legend. His own father reportedly suffered a heart attack from the stress of being hounded by the media.

After his release, Fagan was bombarded with interview requests from the tabloids who were desperate for all the sordid details of his visit: which royal couples slept in different beds? What kind of nightie was her majesty wearing!? The answer: “I tried to keep it sterile and said she was wearing a liberty print nightie down to her knees even though I didn’t notice what it was.”

While the papers were getting to the heart of the really important questions, others were concerned with more frivolous things, like: how could some random guy have casually broken into the home of the British monarchy twice, and gotten within feet of one of the most powerful people in the world?

The answer, as you already know, is incompetency. Despite multiple sightings, and multiple alarms, nobody could really be bothered following up on any of it. Apparently they were all under the impression it was God’s job to save the Queen, which let them all off the hook.

Then-Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw even offered to resign over the affair, but the Queen told him there was no need. The same probably can’t be said for some of the palace police officers, although history doesn’t spare a footnote for what became of them (I imagine a few of them are still chained up in a palace dungeon to this day).

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While some no doubt lost their careers over this farce, Michael Fagan actually gained one. He enjoyed several years of fame as ‘that guy who broke into the palace’, which is enough to fill about half a decade of your schedule with media appearances. In 1983, he even sang vocals on a cover version of the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’ by punk outfit the… uhm… the Bollock Brothers.

When listening to Mr Fagan’s version of that anti-establishment classic, I couldn’t help noticing that they’d toned down the lyrics a bit. It’s kind of like a Kidz Bop version of the original. For example, when Johnny Rotten sings:

“God save the Queen, she’s not a human being.”

Our man Fagan mutters:

“God save the Queen, a lovely human being!”

Kind of defeats the point of the whole ‘punk’ thing, but it seems like Fagan just couldn’t bring himself to say such horrible things about his good pal Lizzie. By all accounts he was actually quite a big fan of the royals, and never intended to do them any harm. In the end, his image as a lovable, naive drunkard helped dispel a lot of the hate that came his way in the media. 

His own mother told the papers shortly after his arrest: “He thinks so much of the Queen. I can imagine him just wanting to simply talk and say hello and discuss his problems.” His father added: “ I think he would have put the Queen at ease straight away. He could smooth-talk anyone.”

How sweet (I mean, if we can look past the whole ‘ashtray suicide attempt’ thing). And quite importantly, after a mistaken report in the New York Times shortly after the security breach, this basically became the accepted version of events: papers reported that Fagan and the Queen chatted about life, while she waited for help to arrive. You’re actually more likely to find that twisted version of events online, than our one (lifted straight from the horse’s mouth). 

Which is why we know that Fagan wasn’t there for a royal therapy appointment. In fact, when quizzed on his motivations 30 years later, during a 2012 interview with The Independent, he revealed a little detail that paints the whole thing in an even more mental light. The reason he thought breaking into Buckingham Palace would be a good idea, was drugs — copious amounts of lovely, lovely drugs. See, about five months before the incident, Michael had fried his head with a massive dose of magic mushroom soup: 

“I forgot you’re only supposed to take a little handful. Two years later I was still coming down. I was high on mushrooms for a long, long time.”

I bet at the start you thought this episode was about an actual assassination attempt or something. Nah, man was just off his face on shrooms. Which I admit, probably means he isn’t the most reliable narrator (some details of the story drift between retellings), but I’ll stand by his version of events nonetheless. 

After all, the man deserves a certain level of respect. No matter what mad stuff any of you have done while high, I’ll bet it’s nowhere near ‘breaking into Buckingham Palace’ level. That’s historic-tier stuff…

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Where Is He Now?

The tale of Fagan’s royal connection pretty much ends there, however the epilogue to his story is every bit as entertaining. The Palace Prowler’s semi-permanent trip wore off at about the same pace as his fame. Once his name had become little more than a pub quiz trivia question, newspaper appearances were limited to key anniversaries of the break-in, or the few other times he found himself in legal trouble.

Such as the time, in 1984, when he served a three-month suspended sentence for assaulting a policeman at a cafe in Fishguard, Wales… Or three years later, when a woman reported him running around on a patch of waste ground near a London reservoir, with no trousers and a “huge erection” (say what you like, the man has lived). 

In Fagan’s defence, he argues that that second one was a misunderstanding. He says he was smoking weed and fishing with his mates, and took off his trousers to retrieve a net from the water. As for the erection accusations, he pleads full flaccidity, saying: “this woman can’t have been from this planet! Her husband must be like that.” [holds up thumb and forefinger a tiny distance apart]

Innocent misunderstanding — happens to the best of us. And from what I can tell, it was cleared up without any criminal conviction. However, the same can’t be said for his 1997 brush with the law. That year, Michael and his ex-wife (yes, they reunited years after his royal break-ins) were arrested along with their son for dealing heroin. 

He claims some of his customers were important people: “one was a company director, the son of a lord. They were all business people and they liked coming to me.” Definitely another story in there — Mr Fagan, if by any chance you’re listening, I’d be honoured to write your tell-all biography someday. After the judge read out his four year sentence for the ‘conspiracy to supply’, Fagan smiled at him from the dock, and said “have a nice Christmas.” That was the last time our drugged-up antihero was ever sent behind bars. 

His life after release has been relatively quiet, still living in London and dishing out the odd interview to the papers every now and then. The most recent was in 2020, with Emily Duggan from the Independent, who met him in his natural environment:

“[S]itting in a Wetherspoons pub, sporting socks, sandals, an oversized parka and a winter hat with ear flaps [… ]a contender for the title of Britain’s Most Embarrassing Grandpa.”

Good to see the then-72-year-old back up on his feet after a double-whammy of a heart attack and COVID-19. He’s doing well thanks to his kids, grandkids, and a new partner of 17 years. After seeing the way that the chirpy pensioner sprang up and down on his seat, Duggan asked him if he was still doing drugs, well into his old age. 

He replied with a quick sniff, and a cheeky grin. Sounds like the old boy might still have one last run at the Palace left in him, just for old time’s sake…

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Wrap-up 

And that brings us to the end of today’s episode: a sensational security breach that could have been a hell of a lot bloodeir, had another intruder got there first; a tale of one man’s single-minded, drugged-up, noble mission to potter about a palace; and a crime of the century, which in the end turned out to not really be a crime at all…

If the story of Michael Fagan has inspired you at home to do a little bit of drunken trespassing at Buckingham Palace (or another cultural site of your choosing), please be aware that we live in a very different era now. You will almost definitely get shot. 

First of all, it’s now a criminal offence to hop that fence. And second, the powers that be finally implemented some stricter measures to protect the Queen from knife-wielding intruders in the mid-eighties. Because, unsurprisingly, Fagan wasn’t the only one in that era — he was just the most famous.

The year before he got inside, a couple of German tourists hopped the fence thinking it led to Hyde Park; two months later a young man was found wandering the grounds and taken in for psychiatric care; then the same year as Fagan a 25-year-old guy flashed a knife in his coat pocket to scare off a couple of guards and stroll inside. 

The way Michael Fagan sees it, he did the royal household a favour by giving them their biggest scare of all, and highlighting how lax their protocols were. Who knows how differently British history might have gone, if it weren’t for this quirky little episode?

If you’re still determined to give it a go yourself (which we DO NOT condone), you’ll need a lot more than just a couple of cans of lager and a pair of brass balls. Buckingham Palace security have added motion sensor beams, extra barriers, personal alarm systems, CCTV, and robot butlers with Gatling guns built into their arms (citation needed). 

So, in a very roundabout way, perhaps all the royalists of Britain have this one drugged-up trespasser to thank for safeguarding their beloved monarch’s superhuman longevity. And long may it continue. Fagan told the Independent last year:

“I hope she lives to be a hundred. If she does, I’ll send her a hundredth-birthday telegram.”

We hope the same for you Mr Fagan. God Save our Palace Prowler.

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Dismembered Appendices

1. If you’d prefer a horrifically inaccurate, sentimental version of this mad story, look no further than Netflix drama The Crown. In season 4 of the sugarcoated royal biopic series, they tell the story of how Michael Fagan, incensed with the injustices of Thatcher’s Britain, resolved to take his complaints to the very top, and had a heartfelt 10-minute conversation with Lizzie about hungry kids and human dignity (not a single mention of magic mushrooms in the whole thing). Fagan himself called it a lot of rubbish. And of the actor Tom Brooke who played him: “I’m actually better looking, and he seems totally charmless.”

2. There’s one last loose end to tie up before we finish up: what happened to the sandals!? Are they still up there on the roof as a reminder of that fateful day? No, in fact, two years after the break-in, Fagan received a package from the palace staff containing his discarded sandals and socks, freshly laundered by and pressed. Happy endings all round.

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