Queen's Aide Says She Needed a 'Stiff Drink' After Cutting and Styling Monarch's Hair Amid Lockdown

Angela Kelly, the Queen's personal stylist and dressmaker, took on the "stressful" job of the Queen's hairstylist during the COVID-19 pandemic

Queen Elizabeth II; Angela Kelly
Queen Elizabeth; Angela Kelly. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth's most trusted aide took on a "stressful" role during COVID-19 lockdowns: that of the monarch's personal hairstylist.

Angela Kelly has updated her bestselling book The Other Side Of The Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe to include reflections on the Queen's life during the coronavirus pandemic, including her taking on the role of cutting and setting the monarch's hair.

In the new chapter excerpted by Hello! magazine, Kelly wrote, "From March 2020 onwards I washed The Queen's hair every week, set and styled it, and even trimmed it when needed. My team named it Kelly's Salon."

Kelly admitted that she was nervous at first — and the Queen knew it.

"During the first two weeks, I was shaking," she said. "I had only done her hair once or twice before while on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. The Queen was so kind as she advised me on the very specific way to put the rollers in."

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth's address in April 2020. The Royal Family/Youtube

As Kelly grew more comfortable in her new duty, the Queen wasn't afraid to voice her opinions.

"As I grew in confidence I'm sure The Queen thought I was a professional and started shouting at me, 'Don't do that, do it this way. That's right, you've got it, don't change it.' I was thinking, goodness me, I need a gin and tonic," Kelly said. "So while The Queen was under the dryer I said to her, 'I'm off for a stiff drink because this is so stressful, getting it just right for you.' "

After a "much-needed rest," Kelly would return to the dressing home to style the Queen's hair, using "a whole can of hairspray to make sure it lasted the week."

"The routine was then set, and Lucy had a gin and tonic ready and waiting for me each time I came back upstairs," she said.

Angela Kelly, personnel dresser to Queen Elizabeth II wears her Royal Victorian Order medal after it was presented to her by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London on November 16, 2012
Angela Kelly. JOHN STILLWELL/AFP via Getty Images

Kelly felt extra pressure for two appearances that were broadcast: in April 2020 when the Queen made a special address to the nation, and again for the monarch's Christmas speech.

"I had to wash and set her hair and at the end of that, never mind one gin and tonic — I needed a whole bottle!" she said of the April 2020 TV appearance. "The Christmas broadcast was another reason to reach for the gin. Any time The Queen was without a hat was stressful as there was nowhere to hide, so I had to get her hair perfect."

She added, "Zooming became part of The Queen's life and Kelly's Salon became very busy. Thankfully, I only had one client!"

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Queen Elizabeth's 2020 Christmas speech. Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty

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According to publishers HarperCollins, the new chapter will capture the Royal Household's isolation during the pandemic-enforced lockdowns at Windsor Castle (including how Kelly cut and set the Queen's hair) and what went on behind the scenes of the monarch's first public engagements as the lockdowns lifted.

Kelly began her career at Buckingham Palace 28 years ago as the Queen's Senior Dresser and rose to become Her Majesty's personal stylist, curator, wardrobe and in-house designer — and one of her closest confidantes.

The first edition of the book caused a sensation among royal fans as Kelly gave a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Queen's style, including how Kelly cleans the Queen's priceless jewels using gin and water. Kelly also revealed how one of the only times the Queen doesn't do her own makeup is when she records her televised Christmas address. Since she wears the same shoe size as Her Majesty, Kelly also breaks in the Queen's shoes.

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