The Queen's dresser has revealed she once claimed tax back on fabrics she bought for the monarch during a tour of Singapore, in order to keep costs down. Angela Kelly, who has worked for Her Majesty for 25 years, has revealed the secrets of her style and outfits in her new book The Other Side of the Coin, the Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe.
Angela says: "The Queen likes to support local people wherever she visits, but we have a particular tradition whenever we go to Singapore. There’s never enough time to go to the market, but as Her Majesty loves Singaporean silk, local tradespeople bring their stalls to the airport when she is due to arrive so that she can personally browse all they have to offer. We wander through the stalls – Her Majesty leading the way, followed by me and the Ladies-in-Waiting. Something will catch the Queen's eye – usually a vibrant fabric, given her fondness for bright colours – and she’ll gesture to me. Our selections are always ready for collection on our return, when it's my responsibility to pay the bill.
The Queen in Singapore in 2006
"A few years ago, after Her Majesty's Ladies-in-Waiting and I had collected our parcels of silk, I went to make the payment and the stall owners advised me that I could claim tax back on the purchase. The Queen is always keen to keep costs down, so off I went in search of someone who could help.
"A few minutes later, as I was getting the tax back, another member of the royal staff rushed up to me in a panic, shouting that we had to go straight away as the plane was leaving right that second. Soon I was running across the tarmac, flying up the steps to the plane just in time. I was so thrilled, I shouted over the plane's engines a phrase I am sure the Queen does not hear very often: 'I've got your tax back!' The look on the Queen's face was priceless as I handed her the tax refund."
Angela worked initially as the Queen's Senior Dresser and then latterly as Her Majesty's Personal Advisor and Curator (The Queen’s Jewellery, Insignias and Wardrobe) and In-house Designer, making her the first person in history to hold this title. In her book, with blessing from the Queen, she shares their extraordinary bond with the world, as well as never-seen-before photographs.
The Other Side of the Coin by Angela Kelly (HarperCollins, £20).
Read the full report in this week's issue of HELLO! magazine, out on Monday.
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