Secrets of serving the Queen have been revealed in a new book by one of Her Majesty’s closest aides.
Angela Kelly has written a behind-the-scenes account of her years as the Queen’s official dressmaker and friend.
Unusually, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, The Dresser and the Wardrobe is authorised by the monarch.
Its blurb says: “The Queen has personally given Angela her blessing to share their unparalleled bond with the world”.
Interesting titbits from the book are serialised this week in celebrity magazine Hello. So what have we learnt?
1. The Queen has someone to wear in her shoes
In her book, Ms Kelly, who has dressed the Queen since 2002, confirms reports the Queen employs a royal assistant to wear in her new shoes are accurate – and that she is the “flunky” that does it.
Ms Kelly writes: “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. Her Majesty asked for that iconic James Bond line
Ms Kelly says that the offer for Her Majesty to appear in a skit alongside Daniel Craig’s James Bond was considered by the Queen for just “five minutes” before she accepted.
“She was very amused by the idea and agreed immediately. I asked then if she would like a speaking part. Without hesitation, Her Majesty replied: ‘Of course I must say something. After all, he is coming to rescue me’,” Ms Kelly recalls.
“I asked whether she would like to say: ‘Good evening, James,’ or: ‘Good evening, Mr Bond,’ and she chose the latter, knowing the Bond films. Within minutes, I was… delivering the good news to [director Danny Boyle] – I think he almost fell off his chair when I said that the Queen’s only stipulation was that she could deliver that iconic line: ‘Good evening, Mr Bond.'”
3. The Queen’s appearance at Royal Ascot is not all about the horses
The Queen’s annual appearance at Royal Ascot is a much-watched affair. And it is not just the horses that the crowds keep an eye on – people place bets on the colour of the monarch’s hat.
After learning such a bet had been placed one year, Ms Kelly says she agreed with the boss of a bookmaker on a closing time for wagers, and even laid out decoy hats in the palace to avoid the real colour being identified early.
Ms Kelly wrote: “I had a meeting with the owner of Paddy Power at which we agreed that betting on the colour of the Queen’s hat would be closed at a certain time to avoid any cheating, but allowed people to carry on guessing the colour of the Queen’s hat and perhaps even win a bit of money.”
4. Greeting Michelle Obama with a hug was ‘natural instinct’
Reports that the Queen “abandoned” royal protocol when she returned former First Lady Michelle Obama’s hug in 2009 were far from accurate, Ms Kelly says.
“In reality, it was a natural instinct for the Queen to show affection and respect for another great woman, and really there is no protocol that must be adhered to,” she wrote.
“When fondness is felt or the host of a State Visit goes to guide Her Majesty up some steps, it truly is about human kindness, and this is something the Queen will always welcome warmly. Anyone who is close to Her Majesty is not a threat and is certainly trusted.”
Mrs Obama wrote in her memoir, Becoming, that the moment came as the pair agreed a long day wearing heels had left them with sore feet.
We were just “two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes”, she added.
5. There is an unusual secret behind the royal christening gown
Ms Kelly reveals how “strong” Yorkshire tea helped to recreate a replica of the royal christening gown which was first used for the christening of James, Viscount Severn, in 2008.
“To make sure it looked authentic we dyed it in Yorkshire tea (the strongest, as we all know),” Ms Kelly wrote of the piece.
“We placed each piece of lace in a small bowl, from the Dressers’ kitchen, filled with cool water and a tea bag and left it for about five minutes, checking regularly until the colour was perfect.”