The Crown season 4 heavily fictionalizes Michael Fagan’s July 1982 Buckingham Palace break-in, so what did he actually say to Queen Elizabeth II, if anything? The Netflix series dedicates an entire episode to the security breach, with English actor Tom Brooke portraying the infamous prowler. According to the real Fagan, The Crown misrepresents what was actually said inside the Queen’s bedroom.
With the episode “Fagan,” The Crown authentically recreates the logistics of the subject’s intrusion. The real Fagan claims that he entered Buckingham Palace for the first time in June 1982, and then returned on July 9, 1982. In between, as the subject later admitted, he’d experienced a mental breakdown after being left by his wife — a life event that’s shown in The Crown. After the Buckingham break-in, Fagan’s lawyer later stated that his client “spent just over 10 minutes” talking to the Queen.
During a 2020 interview [via The Telegraph], Fagan reveals that he barely spoke to Queen Elizabeth II during the Buckingham Palace break-in. In Netflix’s version of events, however, the morning exchange lasts nearly 10 minutes, a timeframe which aligns with the lawyer’s initial claim. Fagan initially sits on the corner of the Queen’s bed in The Crown, and claims that he doesn’t want anything from her, aside from having a chat about “what’s going on in the country.” Brooke’s character leaves the room momentarily to address a cut, and then manages to carry on with the Queen about Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, unemployment, and the future of the country. From there, the Queen takes a seat next to her intruder and shows that she does indeed care about his thoughts. Moments later, Fagan is forcibly removed from Buckingham Palace. According to the real Fagan, Netflix used “a lot of artistic licence” during the conversation sequence with Queen Elizabeth II.
In reality, Fagan reportedly pulled back a curtain in the Queen’s room, prompting Elizabeth II to ask “What are you doing here?” After Fagan sat on the bed, the Queen informed him that “I’ll be back in a minute” and subsequently left. During another 2020 interview [via The Sun], Fagan expressed his displeasure with Netflix’s casting of Brooke, stating that the actor “seems totally charmless.” The infamous Buckingham Palace introducer also revealed to The Telegraph that The Crown creator, Peter Morgan, never reached out to clarify the specifics of the encounter. Given all of Fagan’s statements over the years, it doesn’t appear that he had an actual conversation with the Queen.
For dramatic purposes, The Crown positions Queen Elizabeth II as a leader who’s eager to prove that she does indeed care about self-described “poor” people, such as Fagan. As for Brooke’s interpretation of the intruder, he frames the character as a self-aware man who understands the consequences of his actions, someone who’s charismatic enough to convince the Queen not to immediately remove him from her bedroom. Whereas Netflix is indeed accurate with certain logistical details, the Fagan scene is designed to make the Queen a more sympathetic character, which benefits her character arc while dealing with Gillian Anderson’s Thatcher for the remainder of The Crown season 4.