Queen's Style Revealed; Susan Lee on the Crane Driver's Daughter from Walton Who Now Dresses the Queen

Article excerpt

Byline: SusanLee

SHE is the crane driver's daughter from Liverpool who has become, according to some, as close as a sister to the Queen.

Now Angela Kelly, credited with transforming the Queen's image, has written a book lifting the lid on some of her employer's style secrets.

'Dressing The Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe' is a behind-the-scenes look at just what it takes to keep Her Majesty looking good in one of the most important years of her reign.

Ms Kelly should know. Her official title is Personal Assistant, Adviser and Curator to Her Majesty the Queen (Jewellery, Insignias and Wardrobe).

In fact she is responsible for every facet of the way the Queen looks in public, not only organising her wardrobe and liaising with designers but, in recent years, designing the Monarch's clothes herself.

Born in Walton, the daughter of a crane driver and a nurse, she is notoriously discreet. A divorcee with three grown up children and grandchildren she rarely, if ever, gives interviews.

It is a mark of how much trust the Queen has in her that she has been allowed to publish the book, a coffee table tome, which details how the Jubilee wardrobe came together from sketches through to fabric choices and fitting.

"I love the Queen and everything about her," she revealed on one of the few occasions she has spoken to the press way back in 1997.

"Once she has chosen something to wear, I just want her to look good in it."

Angela met the Queen while she was working for the British Ambassador to Germany in 1992. When the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited his house in Berlin they got chatting to Ms Kelly, who told the Queen of her plans to return to Britain.

Months later, Ms Kelly received a call offering her a job as one of the Queen''s dressers.

And when the Queen asked for her opinion, Angela Kelly did not hesitate to give it. Unsurprisingly, the Queen grew to trust the Scouser's forthright stance.

Now the pair enjoy a close working relationship - Angela is one of the few people other than her family allowed to touch the Queen - and, according to palace insiders, the two are often heard laughing together during fittings and meetings.

Indeed, in the past Angela, who has never lost her Scouse twang, has spoken of her employer's 'wicked' sense of humour.

"She can do all accents - including mine."

She is proud to say the Queen values her opinion on her style.

"But she is the one who is in control. She always makes the final decision," she revealed.

"We are two typical women. We discuss clothes, make-up, jewellery."

As their friendship grew so did Angela's influence on the Queen's wardrobe.

So out went the old fashioned turban hats, pastel colours and floral so often seen on Her Majesty and in has come colour blocking, tailored clothes and striking hats.

And never has Angela's work been more on display than throughout 2012 with the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics all showcasing her design talent and eye for style.

Here she lifts the lid on some of her employer's fashion secrets and the process by which her wardrobe comes together.

An eye for detail. For her historic state banquet in Dublin last year the Queen wore a gown that had 2,000 silk shamrocks sewn on by hand. During her 2010 tour to Canada her visit to a Mi''kmaq indigenous community was marked by an outfit that included beads by women from the First Nations people.

"The Queen has a fantastic understanding of clothes and fashion and is very aware of what suits her and what would be appropriate for any occasion," writes Angela. …