Many have trespassed on the White House grounds and inside the Executive Mansion over the years, but it will take years to catch up with Buckingham Palace.
The most famous recent incident of a palace intruder was when a man chatted with the Queen in her bedroom in 1982 — but they go back at least as far as Queen Victoria.
On Dec. 14, 1838, a teenage boy managed to sneak into Buckingham Palace after it was refurbished to become the royal palace of Queen Victoria. He was caught when spotted by a palace night porter and chased out onto the lawn. He was nabbed with objects he had pilfered, including some of the Queen’s unmentionables stuffed in his trousers.
He was Edward Jones — royalty’s first stalker.
Jones was found not guilty of trespass and released. In December 1840, not long after Queen Victoria gave birth to her first child, he slipped back into the palace. A nurse found him hiding under the sofa in the royal dressing room on which the Queen had been sitting a few hours earlier. He was convicted this time and sentenced to three months in prison. Yet, he couldn’t stay away. He was discovered on March 15, 1841, in the palace’s Picture Gallery eating food he had taken from the royal kitchens. The government decided to get rid of him by any means necessary, including kidnapping, after he was caught near the palace again, according to Jan Bondeson of Cardiff University, who wrote a book about Jones. He was forced into service on a ship of the Royal Navy. Eventually he wound up in Australia, where he died in 1893.
No one seems to have been able to breach the Queen’s private rooms until July 9, 1982, when Michael Fagan, an unemployed laborer, climbed up a drainpipe to Queen Elizabeth II’s private apartments. The Queen woke to find Fagan in her bedroom and spent 10 minutes calmly talking to him. She got an opportunity to call attention to her uninvited guest after he asked for a cigarette and she could call for a footman. The armed police officer stationed outside of the royal bedroom had gone off-duty before his replacement arrived, leaving her door unprotected. Fagan was not charged with trespassing, as the Queen would have had to file suit in civil court. It became a criminal offense to trespass on protected sites in 2007 for 16 royal, governmental and parliamentary places.
Apart from these two very personal brushes with queens, Buckingham Palace has seen its fair share of fence climbers and break-ins.
In June 1914, King George V pleaded for leniency for a man who climbed the fence and wandered inside the palace for several hours before being caught. Another intruder was arrested during the king’s reign in 1929 after trying to break into the diplomats’ entrance.
During George VI’s reign, newspapers reported on at least three incidents: in 1947, a mentally-ill man was caught wandering the palace grounds; in 1949, a man was caught after passing through the king’s rooms into the servants’ quarters, where he woke a maid (who, naturally, screamed); and in 1951, another man spotted by household staff inside the palace was caught out on the grounds when he fled.
More security devices were installed around royal residences after the 1982 intrusion, yet people still manage to climb the 12-foot-high fences and break into the Palace.
In 1989, a mentally ill man managed to walk past two guards and try to talk to the Queen near the stables. A year later, another was caught on the grounds claiming to be Prince Andrew. Antinuclear protesters scaled the fence and had a sit-in on the lawn in 1993, and a naked American paraglider landed on the roof in 1994. In 1997, a student rammed the gates of the Palace. In 2004, a man in a Batman costume climbed on to a ledge near the queen’s balcony and unfurled a banner supporting fathers’ rights. Police spent more than five hours trying to talk him down.
Finally — perhaps — in September 2013, a man was arrested for burglary after scaling the fence and getting into rooms usually open to the public during the day. Two days after that incident, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, was stopped by police in the Palace gardens and told to identify himself. They later apologized.