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The Queen and Angela Kelly: The woman who helped create a royal image

Stephen Lock/i-images

Royal watchers have been abuzz since it was announced last month that The Queen has given her personal advisor and designer Angela Kelly the “extraordinary permission” to publish a book about her experiences in the Royal Household. But with the upcoming release of The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe, you might be wondering, exactly who is Angela Kelly?

To start, her official title is Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor and Curator (The Queen’s Jewellery, Insignias and Wardrobe), a title that has never been given to a member of the Royal Household before. The job encompasses quite a few duties, ranging from selecting and taking care of The Queen’s wardrobe and leading a team of dressers to actually designing some of her outfits and hats, along with other tasks.

Liverpool-born Kelly has worked with the Royal Household for 25 years and started out as a dresser after The Queen met her on a 1992 visit to Berlin. Kelly was then serving as housekeeper to Sir Christopher Mallaby, the British Ambassador to Germany, and mentioned to The Queen she wanted to move home to England. She has since become The Queen’s right-hand woman and one of the only people who is allowed to touch the sovereign.

“I love The Queen and everything about her,” she told The Telegraph. “Once she has chosen something to wear, I just want her to look good in it. I love seeing the faces of the public when they meet The Queen, and when she gives them that special smile. It makes me feel so proud of her.”

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Kelly, who lives in a grace-and-favour house in Windsor gifted by The Queen, is actually already a published author. She penned a book in honour of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 called Dressing The Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe. Her new book, The Other Side of the Coin, however, will take a comprehensive look at what it’s like to dress the most famous woman in the world.

“Whether it’s preparing for a formal occasion or brightening Her Majesty’s day with a playful joke, Angela’s priority is to serve and support,” HarperCollins said in a press release. “Sharing never-before-seen photographs – many from Angela’s own private collection – and charming anecdotes of their time spent together, this revealing book provides memorable insights into what it’s like to work closely with The Queen, to curate her wardrobe and to discover a true and lasting connection along the way.”

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Let’s take a look at a few of Kelly’s famous looks she created for The Queen:

The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton

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The sunny yellow coat and matching dress The Queen wore to the April 2011 royal wedding was created by Kelly and was the perfect ensemble for a spring affair. The pleated detail around the neckline gives a lovely sunburst effect, drawing attention to The Queen’s face, and the matching hat is simple but elegant with its yellow floral decoration.

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The buttercup shade of this outfit is yet another example of The Queen wearing one bright, solid colour in order to stand out in a crowd. After all, “I have to be seen to be believed,” she once said.

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

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The custom Angela Kelly hat The Queen wore to the May 2018 royal wedding is quite loud, but also one of my favourite hats she’s ever worn. This fabulous lime green creation with purple feathers perfectly matched her Stuart Parvin dress and silk tweed coat, and was described by the palace as “using the same lime silk tweed with sinamay adorned across the crown with handmade lace crystals and pearls made by Lucy Price.”

There certainly was no missing Her Majesty in this concoction and it gave off a joyful, colourful feel for her grandson’s spring wedding.

Diamond Jubilee River Pageant

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Kelly designed a range of outfits for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, including this white boucle coat and hat she wore during the river pageant on 3 June 2012. The fabric is threaded with silk ribbon and embroidered with gold, silver and ivory spots, but my favourite touch is that it’s embellished with Swarovski crystals to reflect the River Thames.

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The feathers on the hat were hand-dyed by Kelly’s team, and I love the unusual shape of this topper. Thousands gathered along the river to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family, and I have to imagine Kelly took this into consideration when designing the hat so The Queen’s face would not be obstructed at all by a brim.

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, The Dresser, and the Wardrobe will be published on 29 October by HarperCollins, and the audiobook, narrated by Kelly, will be released the same day.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.