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On This Day in 1982: The Queen fends off bedroom intruder

On this day in 1982, an intruder managed to evade security and break into Buckingham Palace making his way into The Queen’s bedroom whilst she was in residence.

This incident is to this day one of the worst royal security breaches in modern history, with The Queen only managing to get help when she offered the intruder a cigarette.

The intruder was an unemployed decorator, Michael Fagan, who by his own accounts had broken into Buckingham Palace on a previous occasion before the July 9th incident.

On this occasion, Fagan entered the building through an unlocked window on the roof. In the process, he tripped several alarms but they were all faulty.

Whilst inside, he drank half a bottle of wine and sat on the throne before becoming tired and left the Palace.

The July 9th incident was far more serious, however, as he made his way into Her Majesty’s bedroom.

This time he scaled a 14ft high perimeter wall and climbed up a wall into Buckingham Palace.

Again, as with the previous entry, Fagan activated the alarm systems, however, police thought the alarms were faulty so silenced them.

As he wandered the Palace corridors, Fagan cut his hand on some glass. He then entered the royal apartments and made his way into The Queen’s bedroom, still holding a piece of shattered glass.

He disturbed the monarch and was reported to have sat at the end of her bed. It is believed The Queen left immediately security, and phoned the palace switchboard on numerous occasions. However, no help arrived.

Fagan then asked The Queen for some cigarettes. A maid who was in a nearby room bought the cigarettes at Her Majesty’s request.

The Queen’s footman, Paul Whybrew, then appeared and apprehended the intruder. Police quickly arrived and arrested Fagan. The incident occurred as the armed police officer outside the royal bedroom came off duty before his replacement arrived.

Michael Fagan was never charged with trespass as it was not a criminal offence at the time, but a civil matter. He was charged with stealing the wine on his first break-in, but the charges were dropped as he was committed for psychiatric evaluation.

In total he spent six months being treated inside a psychiatric hospital.

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