Book reveals stories behind Queen’s royal outfits

The Queen's touring wardrobe takes pride of place in the book. Picture: PA
The Queen's touring wardrobe takes pride of place in the book. Picture: PA
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Top-secret dresses for meetings with James Bond, no hats after 6pm and jackets embroidered by indigenous North Americans are just some of the Queen’s wardrobe wonders revealed in a new book.

Dressing The Queen, written by Angela Kelly, Her Majesty’s personal assistant, adviser and curator, opens the door to the dressers’ floor at Buckingham Palace and gives a first-hand 
account of working on the Queen’s outfits in her Diamond Jubilee year.

Angela Kelly at work on a gown. Picture: PA

Angela Kelly at work on a gown. Picture: PA

Perhaps one of the Queen’s most famous outfits, the crystal and lace peach cocktail dress she wore to the Olympics opening ceremony, was made twice under top-secret conditions, the book revealed.

After months of planning with the director, Danny Boyle, Ms Kelly and her team made two identical versions of the dress to give the illusion that it was the Queen, and not a stunt double, parachuting from a helicopter above the Olympic stadium alongside 007.

The dressmakers worked quietly for months on the dress, never knowing why two were required for the Queen’s opening of the London 2012 Games, according to the book.

Another notable outfit, for the jubilee river pageant, was influenced by Queen Elizabeth I, and managed to offer the Queen some protection from the rain as she travelled down the Thames on the Spirit of Chartwell.

Ms Kelly writes: “We never imagined the weather would turn out so badly, but I am glad that we gave the Queen some protection from the wind and rain with the frill that ran round the coat’s neckline and down its front, and the matching white cashmere pashmina.”

Another famous outfit, the gold dress the Queen donned for the jubilee pop concert, was influenced by the golden figure of the Queen Victoria Memorial, around which the stage was constructed, according to the book.

Fittingly for a concert that featured a programme of British music from six decades, the gown was bought in 1961.

The book, which features lavish colour photographs of Ms Kelly and her team, design sketches and coverage of some of this year’s major events, also reveals that the Queen rarely wears a hat after 6pm.

But Ms Kelly said for state occasions a tiara was always
required.She writes: “The Queen is very fond of the ‘Girls of Great Britain and Ireland’ tiara, which was given to her grandmother, Queen Mary, on her marriage in 1893.”

The tiara forms a shadow which appears as girls holding hands.

The book also reveals the Queen’s diplomacy, as she chose to wear a predominantly green dress on her May 2011 visit to the Republic of Ireland.

It was the first time a British monarch has visited the country.

Ms Kelly writes: “As a sign of respect for Ireland and her long-held affection for the country, the Queen chose to wear a day outfit that was predominantly green in colour.”

For the evening gown she was to wear to the state banquet in Ireland on 18 May, 2011, the Queen was very specific in her guidance, according to Ms Kelly.

Her gown featured more than 2,000 silk shamrocks sewn on by hand and an Irish harp design, made of crystals, replaced the Royal Family Order normally worn on the Queen’s left shoulder during state occasions.

• Dressing The Queen is out now, priced £24.95 in hardback.