Royal Stylist Reveals What it Was Like to Spend Covid Lockdown With Queen

Queen Elizabeth II's closest aide Angela Kelly—nicknamed "AK47" and the "queen's gatekeeper" by the press—has revealed that during coronavirus lockdowns, she learned to cut and style the monarch's iconic hairdo. She details the experience in an updated edition of her bestselling book The Other Side of The Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe, her publishers have announced.

Kelly has worked for the queen for over twenty years and has become her closest aide. She helps her to dress, manages her extensive jewelry collection and cares for the personal needs of the 95-year-old monarch.

During the coronavirus pandemic the queen moved from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle with a small number of her closest staff—and husband Prince Philip—to form a COVID-safe "bubble" around the nonagenarian monarch. Kelly was chief among this select group, taking on many new duties as a result.

In a revision of her 2019 book detailing her relationship with the queen due to be released later this year, Kelly will detail what it was like to spend lockdown with perhaps the most famous woman in the world.

A press release issued by Kelly's publishers Harper and Collins states that an additional chapter will cover the "royal household's isolation during lockdowns at Windsor Castle; Angela supporting the Queen in new ways, such as cutting and setting her hair; the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral; the first public engagements post lockdown; and a look ahead at the Jubilee celebrations in June."

Responsibility for the queen's hairstyle was a new one for Kelly as it has become a key part of the monarch's instantly recognisable image and is said to have changed only three times since she became queen 70 years ago this year.

The queen's usual hairdresser is Ian Carmichael but as he was not included in the Windsor COVD-safe staff group nicknamed "H.M.S. Bubble" by the press, it was left to Kelly to keep the continuity of her royal boss's image intact.

Kelly's publisher Katya Shipster said the book will "bring up to date the unprecedented events of the past two years."

"It tells the story of the Royal Bubble as well as the lengths that Angela and the Royal Household went to, to ensure the safety of our monarch," Shipster said. DThere is no better look at what goes on behind the pomp and circumstance than this."

Angela Kelly Queen Elizabeth II Hair
Queen Elizabeth II's closest aide, Angela Kelly will reveal how during coronavirus lockdowns she learned to cut and style the monarch's iconic hairdo in an upcoming book. Kelly (L) photographed at Buckingham Palace, November 16, 2012. Queen Elizabeth (R) photographed at Windsor Castle, March 23, 2022. John Stillwell/WPA Pool /Getty Images/Steve Parsons/WPA Pool/Getty Images

In recognition of her decades of service, the queen granted Kelly the official title of Her Majesty's Personal Advisor and Curator (The Queen's Jewelry, Insignias and Wardrobe). She doesn't just dress the queen: she also been designing outfits for the monarch throughout her years of service.

Kelly holds a unique position within the royal household by virtue of her proximity to the queen and has been granted rare royal approval for the publication of two books about the queen and her wardrobe. Members of the royal household are understood to sign strict confidentiality agreements which prohibit these types of projects without express permission from the monarch.

Kelly's first book Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe was published in 2012 and featured exclusive photographs of the monarch's wardrobe from her jewelry to dresses. A second and far more intimate text, The Other Side of The Coin, was released in 2019 and not only contained intimate photographs of the queen but also anecdotes of Kelly's relationship with her boss. One of these anecdotes recounts that Kelly breaks in the monarch's shoes for her before public engagements as they wear the same size.

As the 95-year-old queen has suffered a series of health scares and mobility issues since the beginning of the pandemic, it is understood that Kelly has become even more indispensable to the running of the royal household and has undertaken projects to catalogue the queen's extensive collection of dresses and jewelry.

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