‘The Crown’ season 4 chronicles the shocking situation where Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace and found his way into the Queen’s bedroom. Here’s what to know about what really happened.
The Crown season 4 isn’t just covering the saga of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s relationship. Queen Elizabeth II faced many dire situations throughout the 1980s. One of those situations was a major security breach where intruder Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace twice in one month.
The 34-year-old painter and decorator managed to get past security and came face-to-face with the Queen of England. In The Crown season 4, Michael is portrayed by Tom Brooke in episode 5. The Netflix series takes some liberties with the story of Michael’s break-in, so HollywoodLife has rounded up the key 5 facts about what went down.
1. Michael broke into Buckingham Palace and evaded royal security. He got into Buckingham Palace by climbing the railings near the gates to the Ambassadors’ entrance around 6:45 a.m. on July 9, 1982, according to Scotland Yard’s report of the incident. He went behind a temporary canvas awning that had been put near the Ambassadors’ entrance.
He entered Buckingham Palace on the ground floor via an unlocked window. The room he first entered housed the Royal Stamp Collection, but when all the doors to the rest of the building were found to be locked, Michael exited. He used a drainpipe to climb to a flat roof and made it to a ledge that allowed him to get into an office of the Master of the Household that was in the main palace building. He eventually found his way to the private apartments by “following the pictures.” A member of the palace staff did remember seeing him, but she didn’t think there was a reason to worry.
2. He made it to the Queen’s bedroom. Michael made it into the Queen’s bedroom at around 7:15 a.m. He was carrying a piece of a broken ashtray, which he initially claimed he was going to use to slash his wrists in front of the Queen, according to Scotland Yard’s report.
Michael opened the curtains near the Queen’s bed. She pressed her night alarm bell, but the police sergeant was off duty at the time and the footman was out walking the dogs. Queen Elizabeth II then used her bedside phone to call the palace telephonist to send for police. She called again a few minutes later since the police hadn’t arrived. Prior to the police getting there, the Queen grabbed a palace employee and managed to get Michael into a pantry nearby.
3. Michael claims that he had a few words with the Queen. When Michael pulled back the curtains, the Queen allegedly said to him, “What are you doing here?” In The Crown, the Queen says to Michael, “Have you come far?” Michael told The Guardian that the reigning monarch did not say that.
When Michael sat down on the Queen’s bed, he claims that she said to him, “I’ll be back in a minute.” She got a hold of a palace worker who convinced Michael to leave the bedroom to go get a drink.
4. He was arrested after the break-in. However, he was not charged with trespassing since it was a civil offense. This was actually the second time he broke into Buckingham Palace. The first time, he startled a housemaid and fled. Michael was charged with stealing a bottle of wine during that first break-in, but the charges were dropped when he was committed to a psychiatrist hospital. In 1997, he was put in prison for 4 years for conspiring to supply heroin. He now lives with his partner of 17 years, Rhian.
5. Michael has maintained that he didn’t have a specific motivation for the break-in. “I don’t know why I did it, something just got into my head,” he told The Independent in 2012. In his most recent interview with The Guardian, he admitted that he doesn’t have a reason for why he broke in but was upset about his joblessness and the breakdown of his marriage at the time.