Cape Town – Queen Elizabeth's dresser and confidant, Angela Kelly has released a tell-all book, with the permission of Her Majesty, of course.
The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe explores what it's like to be the queen's right-hand woman while sharing anecdotes about working with the longest-reigning monarch in history.
From her iconic hats to the aid she has to break in her shoes, Angela tells all. Here are five new wardrobe secrets and anecdotes from the extracts published exclusively in HELLO! Magazine:
1. Someone to break in those shoes
The Queen – who never breaks royal protocol – once allowed a hug from Michelle Obama. Why the royal blunder? Well, because the two with both in complete and utter pain. "We were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes," the former first lady later revealed.
The queen does, however, have someone break in her shoes, Angela revealed.
"As has been reported a lot in the press, a flunky wears in Her Majesty's shoes to ensure that they are comfortable and that she is always good to go. And yes, I am that flunky.
"The Queen has very little time to herself and not time to wear in her own shoes, and as we share the same shoe size it makes the most sense this way."
2. 'I've got your tax back!'
Though she is the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms, Her Majesty still tries to keep costs down. According to Angela, she does so by buying from local vendors.
No, Her Royal Highness does not casually walk the local flea markets, but quite often (in Singapore particularly where they have colourful fabrics to her liking) vendors come to the airport, to save time of course, and set up shop.
Angela recalls one occasion when she picked up an outfit – and saved a pound or two too. "A few years ago, after Her Majesty's Ladies-in-Waiting and I had collected our parcels of silk, I went to make the payment and the stall owners advised me that I could claim tax back on the purchase. The Queen is always keen to keep costs down, so off I went in search of someone who could help.
"A few minutes later, as I was getting the tax back, another member of the royal staff rushed up to me in a panic, shouting that we had to go straight away as the plane was leaving right that second. Soon I was running across the tarmac, flying up the steps to the plane just in time. I was so thrilled, I shouted over the plane's engines a phrase I am sure the Queen does not hear very often: 'I've got your tax back!' The look on the Queen's face was priceless as I handed her the tax refund."
3. Decoy hats
Nothing completes a brightly-coloured skirt suit like a matching feathered headpiece, and no one wears a hat like a crown quite like Her Majesty, the queen.
Angela revealed that she assists in making several of the queen's outfits, completing it with a hat. And the palace is well aware of the fact that everyone oohs and ahhs over her embellished and decorated hats – even holding bets on the colour, she'll wear to Royal Ascot each year. With insider information, many would place ridiculous amounts (once, someone betted £2 000 – R 37 334) on the queen's hat, but of course, that's completely unfair. So Angela and the palace devised a plan to throw people off.
"Each morning I place four or five previously worn hats on a table in the workroom. They are different colours and styles and are on display for a reason.
"Anyone who happens to pass the room will see those hats. They are not hidden behind a closed door and no secret is made of them. This will stop anyone catching sight of the hat Her Majesty actually intends to wear..."
And we're sure the Queen approves – Her Majesty loves a good prank.
4. The queen's wicked sense of humour
On one occasion, Angela recalls a trip to Sydney and how, ahead of the outing, the queen told her she'd probably come across a kookaburra, native to Australia. Angela managed to find a plush kookaburra toy and tricked the queen.
"Back at the Governor's House, I went up to her room to find the perfect perch. I placed it on the balcony in a little cage. I waited for her to return and when she came in I said, 'Your Majesty, there's a funny-looking grey bird on your balcony.'
"The Queen looked outside and shouted 'It's a kookaburra!' I went to open the cage doors and she said loudly, 'No! Don't do that! It will fly away! And was behind me in a flash. Turning to Her Majesty while trying to keep a straight face, I solemnly told her it was dead. She looked horrified as I walked towards her with outstretched arms and as she took the bird from my hands, she realised I had been winding her up."
"You're sacked," the queen quipped. But it was that wicked sense of humour striking again.
Angela's been the queen's aid for 25 years now.
5. Queen Elizabeth, James Bond and the 2012 Olympic Games
You may have seen Daniel Craig as James Bond accompany the queen to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, but there's a funny story behind her cameo performance too.
Angela explains that to director, Danny Boyle's surprise, the queen said yes, and in no less than 5 minutes. She only had one condition – that she be given a speaking role.
"'Of course I must say something. After all, he is coming to rescue me.'," Angela recalled the queen saying.
Walking past her corgis and into her office, James Bond enters the queen's chambers and waits patiently for her to address him.
"Good evening, Mr Bond," she says, before parachuting into London Stadium.
WATCH THE CLIP HERE:
(Photo: YouTube: Olympic Channel)