The intruder and The Queen

The noise woke Her Majesty up. She saw a bleeding man sitting at the end of her bed, murmuring, ‘Can I have a cigarette?’
A true story based on the Scotland Yard’s report. Featured image credit: David Levenson, Getty.

Michael Fagan was seen on the railings near the gates to the ambassadors’ entrance of Buckingham Palace at about 6:45 A.M., on Friday, 9 July, 1982. He climbed over the railings, jumped down and hid behind a temporary canvas which had been put up next to the ambassadors’ entrance. There was a window left unlocked on the ground floor so Fagan easily got into the palace. All the doors of the room he entered were locked, so Fagan came out through the same window.

He then climbed a rainpipe to a flat roof above. He found another unlocked window through which he climbed into an office of the Master of the Household. Leaving the room, Fagan found himself on the corridors of the palace towards the private apartments. ‘I was following the portraits and paintings on the wall’, he told later. Fagan went first to an anteroom, where he broke into several pieces an ordinary glass ashtray. He cut his finger. It immediately started bleeding.

Michael Fagan entered Her Majesty The Queen’s bedroom at about 7:15 A.M. He went across the room and opened curtains close to Her Majesty’s bed. By this time, the at-night police sergeant had already gone off duty. The footman was outside exercising the dogs, and the maid was cleaning in another room. The noise woke Her Majesty up. She saw a bleeding man sitting at the end of her bed. ‘Can I have a cigarette?’, he murmured. The Queen pressed the alarm bell but since all the staff were doing their duties, the bell didn’t attract anyone’s attention.

While talking to Fagan, Her Majesty used her bedside telephone and told the palace telephonist to send police to her bedroom. Before police officers arrived, Her Majesty attracted the attention of the maid, and together they walked with Fagan into a nearby pantry on the pretext of supplying him with a cigarette. The footman also arrived. While Her Majesty kept the dogs away, the footman helped to keep the intruder in the pantry by supplying him with cigarettes until police officers arrived and removed him.

Back in 1982, what Fagan did was not a criminal offence, so he was not charged. The Serious Organized Crime and Police Act of 2005 made Buckingham Palace a designated site and since then trespassing its grounds has been a crime.

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