On July 9, 1982, a frightening incident occurred at Buckingham Palace when an intruder managed to break into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom despite the heavy security measures that were put in place to prevent such.
In 1982, a man who was later profiled as Michael Fagan was spotted on the railings near the gates to the ambassadors' entrance. He arrived at Buckingham Palace in the morning at around 6:45 a.m.
The intruder managed to climb over the railings and jumped down without being confronted. He made his way behind a temporary canvas awning which happened to be next to the ambassadors' entrance.
Queen Elizabeth's official portrait for the Coronation in 1953 | Photo: Mirrorpix/Getty Images
On the ground floor, he reached the Royal Stamp Collection room which he entered through an unlocked window. Fagan then came out of the room through the same window because he couldn’t get to the rest of the building through the locked doors.
The intruder found a drainpipe at the corner of the ambassadors' entrance portico and the main building line. He managed to get himself to the flat roof above by climbing the pipe.
On the roof, he removed his socks and sandals before crossing onto a narrow ledge. Through another unlocked window, Fagan was able to get into an office of Vice Adm. Sir Peter Ashmore, the Master of the Household.
The intruder then spent the next fifteen minutes moving around the corridors of the palace without being detected. A domestic staff member later recalled seeing him but didn’t think anything of it because she said he wasn’t suspicious enough.
Fagan eventually got to the private apartments in the building by following the photos in the palace. His first stop was an anteroom, where the intruder broke a glass ashtray into several pieces.
At around 7:15 a.m., he arrived at the Queen’s bedroom with a piece of broken ashtray. He later explained that he’d wanted to slash his wrists with the glass in the monarch’s presence.
The intruder shared how the idea had formed in his mind when he saw the ashtray and that it hadn’t been his initial intention when he broke in. Fagan opened the curtains that were closest to the Queen’s bed.
She reacted by pressing the night alarm bell. Unfortunately, the night police sergeant who was in the corridor outside had already gone off duty by 6 a.m. when the other staff members started their shifts.
The footman was outside exercising the dogs and one maid was cleaning in another room with the door closed to avoid waking the Queen. The night alarm bell is connected to the corridor outside the monarch’s room and to the pantry, but it failed to get anyone’s attention.
The Queen called the palace telephonist with her bedside phone and asked for the police to be sent over. The telephonist did as instructed but the police appeared to be taking long.
Around six minutes later, Queen Elizabeth made another call but before the police arrived, she managed to get the attention of the maid. The monarch and the maid took Fagan into a nearby pantry pretending they were getting him a cigarette.
The Queen, the maid, and the intruder were then joined by the footman who’d returned from his morning duties. Fagan started getting agitated by the dogs but the monarch kept them away.
The footman supplied the intruder with some cigarettes to help keep him in the pantry. Soon enough, one policeman arrived and then another one also came and they removed Fagan from the palace.
The piece of ashtray glass was discovered on the monarch's bed. Fagan’s bloodstains were found on the Queen’s bedclothes after he cut himself on the right thumb with the broken glass.
It was later discovered that a police officer did spot the intruder on the railings. The authority actually sent a message through another police officer to the control room inside the palace.
The officers in the control room failed to act on time and the alarm that was set off by Fagan in the stamp room was ignored. Ultimately, the intruder was charged with burglary at the palace.
This was actually his second break-in to the palace. The first time Fagan entered he startled a housemaid and fled, he was later charged with stealing a bottle of wine, but the charges were dropped when he was committed to a psychiatrist hospital.
In November 2020, Fagan was living with his partner of 17 years, Rhian. The story of the intruder’s second break-in was covered in season four, episode five, of “The Crown,” in a feature simply titled “Fagan.”
The incident with Fagan wasn’t the only chilling one to occur at Buckingham Palace. In 1974, four weeks after Princess Anne’s royal wedding she was on her way home with her new husband Captain Mark Phillips after they’d attended a charity event.
Acar suddenly blocked their pathway
as they drove down The Mall and a man named Ian Ball got out and pulled out a shotgun. Ball wanted to try to kidnap the princess for a ransom of more than $2 million.