Publisher’s note: Mari Rodríguez Ichaso has been a contributor to Vanidades magazine for several decades. She is a specialist in fashion, travel, gastronomy, art, architecture and entertainment, a film producer and a style columnist for CNN en Español. The opinions expressed in this column are solely his own. Read more opinion pieces at cnne.com/opinion.
(CNN Spanish) — When I was told about the great influence, and enormous power, of a lady, 64, named Angela Kelly, over Queen Elizabeth II, I couldn’t believe it and thought it was a joke!
And when they insisted that Angela was one of the most influential people in the royal court, I was still incredulous. I couldn’t believe that the best friend of the always serious and apparently uncaring queen was this woman of very humble origins who, for 28 years, has been in charge of her clothes, jewelry and decorations, having the bombastic official title of “personal assistant”. and curator of the queen’s wardrobe, jewelery and insignia”. And she who for several years has also designed her clothes and her hats.
A true character Angela Kelly, without a doubt, has also written two books (with the full permission of the sovereign), where she has in great detail the private life of the queen and her daily life. In her works includes details of her rituals in the bath, at tea time, her favorite foods, her hobbies on television and much more. And one of the books – to coincide with the queen’s 96th birthday and her 70th anniversary on the throne – has been reissued and brought up to date.
In it she explains how during the pandemic she also became the sovereign’s hairdresser, which made her very nervous, because the queen knows perfectly how she wants her styling and Angela finished her work needing to have a drink of gin when she got home in the Windsor Castle Gardens. Gin with which she – as she has said on other occasions – mixes with water and washes the diamonds of the Crown!
And it is that Angela Kelly, who has been decorated for her services to the Crown at Buckingham Palace, is one of the people who solves the queen’s problems, and the sovereign in her old age loves to have her life made easy. And, in this, Angela is an expert!
Examples? Talking a lot with the queen, knowing how to listen to her and –very important!– telling her about her life and her humble childhood, a way of living with daily problems that perhaps Elizabeth was unaware of and through Angela they have become much closer to her .
And, for me, here is the secret of their relationship, the queen loves to chat with Angela – the daughter of a worker at the Liverpool docks – who treats the sovereign as a friend. That friendship gives Angela the power to decide on many things as her personal assistant.
Assistant who not only chooses the clothes that the queen is going to wear, but in recent years has “designed” a look of more modern sets and with more vivid colors, which the queen loves. These “designs” are then made by the many seamstresses who are part of the Palace’s permanent staff, supervised by Angela. During special occasions, jubilees, etc., the queen sometimes has to change her clothes four or five times a day, and Angela has to choose everything, including dresses, gloves, shoes, bags, jewelry, decorations, hats, and even! the transparent parasol with bias to match the dress!
Many of the outfits she wore to her Jubilee events and the pink she wore in the Olympic skit with actor Daniel Craig were Angela’s designs. She is she has commented that one of the sovereign’s dress rules is “not to wear a hat after 6 pm” – and always carry her bag – even if she is in the palace, which after all is her house . Of course, the queen’s shoes (the ones that they send to repair, change the sole, heels, etc.,) have not changed for 50 years and they always make her the same style by hand in the simple company Anello & Davide. Just like her bags, Lautner’s design for 70 years. Also, as of 2019, Angela announced that the queen would no longer wear fur and she would only wear faux fur.
Some media report that on one occasion the queen commented that it was “as if we were sisters.”
In the interview that Angela gave when she was decorated, she said that she and the queen talk absolutely “about everything and nothing… We are like two normal women, we gossip, we talk about fashion, makeup and jewelry… things that we both like ”.
Angela explains, in a thick Scottish accent, “The Queen and I had a lot of fun as she has a very witty sense of humor and is very good at mimicking people’s accents, including mine!”
They say that the queen learns from Angela about many issues that happen in the country, including those that affect the royal family. And when Elizabeth II travels to Windsor Castle, and Angela stays in a servants’ house in the garden, the queen walks there to tea with her friend-maid. And now that the queen has a lighter schedule, her friendship with Angela, who, for her, does nothing wrong, is accentuated. Her sister, Princess Margaret, was the one who told her what was happening and kept her entertained and, with her death, the queen was left very lonely and very sad. And now, with the death of Prince Philip, Angela’s company has been even more beneficial. And now, Mrs. Kelly – who, with Elizabeth II’s permission, wrote Dressing The Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe, a book about the queen’s clothing and customs – has taken that important place.
Of the books, the one I like the most is “The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe”, where testimonies of Angela’s children and 4 grandchildren appear and reveal charming anecdotes of their relationship and that of their family. with the queen
Before working for the Queen, Angela was a housekeeper for the British Ambassador to Germany and an Army Chauffeur in the Women’s Royal Army Corps.
In 1993, she started at the palace – and in 2001 she became personal assistant to the queen and senior dresser. And her new job as her “designer” has also included creating much of the clothing and hats worn by the queen, which have earned her much praise.
Angela has been working for her for 28 years and as she said in an interview: “I hope that the queen and I can grow old together”.