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24.9.08

Michael Fagan: The "Prowler" At Buckingham Palace...

On the 9th of July 1982 an intruder entered the Queen's bedroom at Buckingham Palace.

From the Daily Mirror, 12/7/1982:

An intruder at Buckingham Palace got into the Queen's bedroom, it was revealed last night.The man sat on the Queen's bed for ten minutes and she engaged him in conversation. Eventually she found an excuse to fetch a footman, on duty in the corridor outside, and the prowler was detained.

Early this morning Buckingham Palace would only say: "It is entirely a police matter."

But the apparent ease with which a stranger managed to reach the Queen's side - she unprotected and he undetected - casts grave doubts about the efficiency of security at the Palace.


The drama happened early in the morning and the Queen remained calm.

She was eventually able to get help when the man asked for a cigarette.

The Queen said there were none in the bedroom and offered to have some brought.

Once the intruder's confidence had been gained, the Queen opened her bedroom door and beckoned a footman outside in the corridor.

The footman pretended to bring the cigarettes, opened the bedroom door and detained the intruder.

Prince Phillip, it is reported, was in a separate bedroom at the time of the incident.

Lapses in security at Buckingham Palace during the past year have caused grave concern for the Queen's safety.

Action to improve security is already under way.

On Saturday a barbed-wire barricade was put up as part of the new safety measures. The wire tops iron spikes already protecting the palace walls.

The palace has been invaded by strangers several times in the last year.

Three West German tourists camped in the grounds for twelve hours, thinking they were in a public park.

A man claiming he was hopelessly in love with Princess Anne was found wandering in the grounds.

Last month a member of the Royal Household reported seeing an intruder at the palace shortly after American President Ronald Reagan arrived.

A top-level police enquiry into security has been ordered by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir David NcNee...

24/9/1982:

Yesterday, in just about the craziest case since the trial of the Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, a court of law solemnly declared open house at the Queen’s residence.

The Sun declared that the decision to clear Michael Fagan of the charge of burgling Buckingham Palace was “BONKERS!”


… Michael Fagan, the prowler who had a bedside chat with the Queen, was sensationally cleared yesterday of burgling Buckingham Palace.

An Old Bailey jury took just 22 minutes to acquit 32-year-old Fagan.

He had told them that “a little voice in my head” had ordered him to break into the Palace twice this year.

Fagan added that he did it to prove that the Queen’s security was lax.

He said: “I wanted to show that the Queen was not too safe… I could have been a rapist or something.”

The jury of seven men and five women cleared him of trespassing at the Palace, and stealing half a bottle of Californian wine belonging to Prince Charles.

Fagan - whose break-ins earned him the nickname “Spiderman” among Palace staff - beamed with delight at the verdict.

But last night he was still behind bars at London’s Brixton Prison facing two other charges - of taking a car and of assault.

Fagan’s wife Christine and mother Ivy were in the public gallery to hear of Fagan’s two break-ins - on July 7 and July 9 this year.

He appeared in the dock in the crowded Number One Court wearing a red pullover, navy slacks and white open-necked shirt.

Fagan, of Copenhagen Street, Islington, North London, was flanked by three prison officers and replied “Not Guilty” when the charges were read out.

Fagan told how he first got into the Palace on June 7 - after disturbing housemaid Sarah Carter. He said: “I went round there with the children and heard security was a bit lax. So I decided to show that someone could get in.

“I disturbed a young lady and then walked around the place…”

At this point Recorder James Miskin, QC, urged him not to talk so quickly as he had to write the evidence down. Said Fagan: “OK - did you get it?”

Fagan, who started most of his sentences with “yeah”, said he was surprised he was not captured right away after disturbing the housemaid.

He added: “I could have been a rapist or something.

“I stayed there about half-an-hour without being captured. I even had time to have a drink because I was thirsty.”

Fagan said during his roaming he noticed names on various doors.

“Princess Anne was on one room and Captain Mark Phillips on another. I decided not to disturb them,” he said with a laugh.

He said he opened another door with “Prince Phillip” on it, adding: “But they were out seeing President Reagan.”

Fagan described how he went into a post room and drank from a bottle of Californian wine he found there.

The court heard the wine - and a pair of baby bootees - had been sent to Prince Charles and Princess Diana before the birth of their son.

Fagan slumped forward and rested his arms on the edge of the witness box as his counsel, Mr Richard Slowe, quizzed him about his activities.

He said: “I was in the room for half-an-hour waiting to get pinched.

“In my opinion I have done the Queen a favour. I proved her security was not one up.”

Mrs Barbara Mills, prosecuting, suggested to Fagan that the wine had not been his to drink. He replied: “It was not my palace to get in, was it?”

He went on: “There was no tap… I was thirsty. I had done a good day’s work for the Queen showing the security was bad.”

Earlier Miss Carter told how she came face-to-face with Fagan.

She told the jury she was sitting on her bed after 11.00pm when she heard a noise.

“Turning towards the window I saw some fingers on the outside of the frame. They were a few inches up from the sill itself.

“I saw a fleeting glimpse of a man’s face. Then I ran out of the room into the corridor shutting the door behind me.”

She told two other housemaids in nearby rooms about what she had seen and added:

“As I talked to them I heard a small noise in my room. But I decided against opening the door.”

The three girls then alerted a duty police officer.


Det Sgt Geoffrey Braithwaite admitted that at first he did not believe the girl’s story because of the climb involved.

Mrs Mills told the court it was 55ft from the Palace courtyard to Miss Carter’s window.

But later pigeon repellent - from window ledges - was found on a carpet and a full scale alarm raised.

But, despite a big search with the help of police dogs, no trace of the intruder was found.

Then, on July 9, Fagan made his second visit to the Palace and was finally arrested.

Fagan was cornered in a pantry near the Queen’s bedroom by footman Paul Whybrew.

Mr Whybrew, who has been at the Palace for six years, said in a statement that Fagan kept insisting that he wanted to talk to the Queen… “My queen.”

He added: “I tried to keep him calm and he said he was all right.

“He said it was urgent and tried to pass me but I got in his way. I also noticed his breath smelled of alcohol.

“I laughed and tried to be casual and friendly and said: ‘How did you get here?’ He replied: ‘I just want to talk to her.’

To stall for time, Mr Whybrew told him: “All right but let her get dressed first.”

Mr Whybrew said Fagan appeared to be “not coherent or rational. He seemed very tense.”

The footman asked him if he would like a drink and Fagan replied: “Yes please, I would like a scotch.”

Fagan was given a glass of Scotch - and then PC Cedric Robert arrived in the pantry.

PC Robert said Fagan “appeared scruffy and was wearing a grubby grey sweatshirt and jeans. He was barefoot.”

As they grabbed his arms to lead him away, Fagan said: “I want to see the Queen - let me go back to talk to her.”

On his way through the Palace, Fagan became very abusive and said his name was Rudolph Hess, the Nazi war leader…

Of the charges laid against Mr Fagan, the Sun informed us:

Fagan was accused of “burglary contrary to Section 9 (1)B of the Theft Act 1968, the particulars being that between the sixth day of June and the ninth day of June, 1982, he entered Buckingham Palace and stole therein a quantity of wine.”

He was NOT charged with entering the Queen’s bedroom - which happened during his second Palace escapade - because, says the Director of Public Prosecutions, no criminal offence was committed.

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