· Angela Kelly’s The Other Side of the Coin ·
As we know, the royals put a lot of thought into their clothing choices. From the Duchess of Cambridge, to the stylish European queens, to the fashion icon Queen Elizabeth, it’s not hard to tell that these royal ladies put a lot of thought into what they wear. While we get tidbits from time to time about their stylists and what goes into dressing a royal woman, it’s not often we get to hear from the stylists themselves.
What it a treat it was this fall, then, when Angela Kelly, LVO, The Queen’s Personal Advisor, Curator and Senior Dresser released a new book chronicling her experience working on The Queen’s wardrobe. The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe gave insight, with HM’s permission, into Angela’s longtime working relationship with the British monarch. This delightful look into personal and professional moments got us a little closer to understanding just what it takes to dress a royal.
Angela has worked for The Queen for over 25 years. The book begins by explaining the remarkable way in which Angela impressed The Queen when she was working as a housemaid for the British ambassador to Germany. There, Angela met The Queen for the first time and made her mark by refusing to tell even The Queen who the next houseguest was (The Duke of Edinburgh was apparently incredulous!). Angela was later approached by Buckingham Palace to work as an assistant dresser, and she’s been in HM’s service ever since!
Throughout the book, Angela tells short stories of The Queen’s clothing and working life. She explains the preparation needed for formal occasions like The Order of the Garter and the State Opening of Parliament, but also day-to-day events. She allows readers a peek inside the extensive planning for The Queen’s five outfits for Royal Ascot (and how she keeps the color of HM’s hat a secret!), as well as the meticulous preparations for a Royal Tour.
Besides these looks into the clothing The Queen wears, Angela also gives an intimate peek into The Queen herself. From tricks they’ve played on each other, to a photoshoot where The Queen posed with her hands in her pockets, the book gives a delightful glimpse into The Queen’s personality.
It also confirms and references many famous moments of the past several years. Angela confirms that she breaks in The Queen’s shoes for her so that they’re comfortable, but she also denies that HM intentionally showed support for the EU with her hat after the Brexit referendum. Perhaps most interestingly, she debunks the rumors that Michelle Obama broke protocol by hugging The Queen writing,
“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. 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” (227).
While Angela is able to provide some unique insights into The Queen’s life, she does still working for The Queen, so there is nothing too shocking that is revealed and Angela continually expresses her admiration for the monarch. Many of the stories follow a similar pattern: something must be made for an event within a timeline, it comes down to the wire, but everything always turn out the best. While these threads sometimes make for a predictable read, it is well-worth it for the fascinating look into all that goes into every clothing choice worn by The Queen.