15 November 2020 20:32
But the latest season of The Crown on Netflix reminds those who don't know their history that this isn't necessarily the case, and that she was once awoken in her own bedroom by an intruder. Michael Fagan, a painter and decorator, was the Buckingham Palace intruder in question. 'I walk past her bed and it looks too small to be the Queen. Back in 2012, Michael told The Independent that he had 'great respect' for the Queen, and recalled the specifics of her room. READ MORE: Rebecca Humphries On Playing Carol Thatcher In The Crown He does, however, deny the claims that the Queen maintained a length conversation with him, ostensibly to distract him while she waited for security.
'She went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor.' In this episode we see prime minister Margaret Thatcher dealing with the escalating Falklands crisis – a situation about which the Queen looks visibly displeased. But what's the real history behind the infamous 1982 Buckingham Palace intruder, and what did the Queen really think about the Falklands War? (This article contains spoilers for season 4, episode 5 of The Crown) Michael Fagan: the Buckingham Palace intruder Episode 5 opens with global news reports of a shocking break-in at the palace: an intruder had climbed over a fence and into the palace grounds, before scaling a drainpipe and entering the royal quarters. There, the man had a "uninvited, unannounced" audience with the Queen, said reporters. What's the real history behind the Buckingham Palace intruder?
On the morning of 9 July 1982, 31-year-old painter and decorator Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace and made his way to the Queen's bedroom. There was no drawn-out conversation between Fagan and the Queen at her bedside, and certainly no discussion of Margaret Thatcher's policies. "She went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor… Her nightie was one of those Liberty prints and it was down to her knees," said Fagan in a 2012 interview with The Independent. The Queen attracted the attention of a maid, and together they ushered Fagan into the pantry on the pretext of supplying him with a cigarette. You can read more about the infamous break-in and the real Michael Fagan here. In The Crown, Fagan is seen pleading with the monarch to "save us all from her… Thatcher. She's destroying the country." In reality there is no suggestion that Fagan discussed Margaret Thatcher's policies with the Queen, but it is true that he was motivated by a desire to tell the Queen what was going on in the real world. In The Crown he tells the Queen: "I just thought it might be good for you to meet someone normal who can tell it to you as it is." True to history, in a 1993 radio interview the real Michael Fagan told listeners: "The Queen, to me, represented all that was keeping me down and [my] lack of voice… I just wanted her to know what it feels like to just be an ordinary chap trying to make ends meet." It is also true that Fagan had told his mother about his SW1 'girlfriend', Elizabeth (as press reports featured in The Crown attest), and he really did explore the royal residence at his leisure, trying out the royal thrones for size and comfort "like Goldilocks and the Three Bears". Fagan also quaffed half a bottle of wine in the palace gift room. The Crown S4 episode guide: the real history Episode 5 also covers the escalating Falklands crisis and sees Margaret Thatcher proudly inform the Queen, "the tide has turned, and the recapture of the Falkland Islands is within reach". But the Queen looks largely unimpressed by the news, and throughout the episode appears distinctly sour-faced about goings on in the remote British colony. Then, when watching news coverage of Thatcher taking the salute at the victory parade, she moans to her husband, Prince Philip: "The prime minister taking the salute instead of the sovereign, doesn't that bother you?… I think that woman is getting ahead of herself." Philip muses: "It's interesting how much it clearly bothers you." What did the Queen really think of the Falklands crisis? "The Queen supported the war; I don't know where the idea comes from that she didn't," says historian Dominic Sandbrook. "There is no evidence at all that the Queen was against the war and there is no reason to believe she had any doubts about it." You can read more about the Queen's views on the Falklands War here. There is also no suggestion that the Queen was unimpressed when Thatcher informed her of Britain's impending victory in the Falklands. In Mrs Thatcher's own private, unpublished memoir of the war, she writes that after hearing the news that South Georgia had been retaken, she "went over to see the Queen at Windsor. It was wonderful to be able personally to give her the news that one of her islands had been restored to her." So, "unless Mrs Thatcher was completely deluding herself, that suggests the Queen cared very much indeed," says Sandbrook. And would the Queen really have been irked by Thatcher taking the salute at the victory parade? "The Queen had been around a long time by then," says Sandbrook. "She knew that prime ministers come and go, and that Thatcher would probably be 'out' soon enough, so I don't suspect she was that bothered about it." You can read more about the Falklands War here. Discover more real history behind The Crown here NEXT EPISODE: The Crown S4 E6 real history: Charles and Diana's 1983 royal tour of Australia & the start of 'Dianamania' With thanks to historian Dominic Sandbrook, an expert on Margaret Thatcher and author of Who Dares Wins (Allen Lane, 2019), which explores the pivotal early years of Thatcher's premiership in Britain: 1979–82 You can listen to Sandbrook discussing the early years of Margaret Thatcher's premiership in Britain on this podcast: