‘The Crown’: The True Story Behind Buckingham Palace’s Michael Fagan Break-In
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 5 of The Crown, “Fagan.”]
The Crown is notorious for recreating historical moments in the British monarchy’s recent past, and often times they surprise less-informed fans. Season 4 is no exception as Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) entered the scene, but it wasn’t their arrival that has fans googling.
Instead, that honor goes to the tale of Michael Fagan (played by Tom Brooke), a man who broke into Buckingham Palace, not just once, but twice in 1982. The break-in was a well-reported event at the time, but for those forgetful of the ’80s headlines, The Crown definitely renewed interest in the story.
As one must expect from the series, certain moments are dramatized for effect and storytelling, but Fagan’s two break-ins were pretty spot-on. In 1993, the real Fagan spoke about the event during a BBC Radio 4 segment Famous for 15 Minutes led by Jenni Mills.
During the conversation, he recounted his palace entries which follow the same course depicted onscreen, but there were a few differences. The painter-decorator who was experiencing domestic issues with his wife and children did manage to make it into the Queen’s bedroom, but rather than having a lengthy conversation, he was only in the queen’s company for a few seconds.
“This is the truth. She just said ‘get out,’ and that was it,” Fagan conceded in the radio interview. He also admits that he was trying to get caught the second time he broke in. This story greatly contrasts with the heartbreaking exchange between a man down on his luck and the Queen in The Crown.
Ultimately, Fagan wasn’t charged with breaking and entering; instead he was faced with charges of stealing after he drank a bottle of wine, which was also depicted in the show. Instead, he spent time in the Park Lane Mental Hospital, serving three months before his eventual release.
Since his break-ins, Fagan has been in and out of jail for other offenses, but the man remains living in London to this day. It could be said that he’d have a little bit more trouble trying to break into Buckingham Palace now as the royal home’s security has tightened greatly since the ’80s.
While his story may not be portrayed wholly accurate in The Crown, the episode “Fagan” offers more detailed insight into the man’s break-in and the reasons behind it.
The Crown, Seasons 1-4, Streaming now, Netflix