Angela Kelly, the monarch’s personal adviser and curator, found gin and tonic the best way of dealing with the responsibility when Her Majesty’s hairdresser was no longer able to visit because of Covid-19 restrictions. In a new chapter of her book The Other Side of the Coin, Ms Kelly, a Liverpool docker’s daughter and grandmother of four, described taking on the task during lockdown as the Queen switched to virtual engagements and gave televised addresses to the nation.
“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,” she wrote in the revised book, extracts of which were sold to Hello! magazine.
“The Queen knew I was nervous, and during the first two weeks I was shaking. 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.”
But she added: “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.
“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 I returned to the dressing room to comb out the Queen’s hair ready to style. I must have used 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.”
It became even more stressful if the Queen was on camera without a hat and when she addressed the nation on April 5, 2020, in a special pandemic broadcast, saying: “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”
Ms Kelly recalled: “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. 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.”