The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe

By: Angela Kelly

Queen Elizabeth has always fascinated me and the Netflix series, “The Crown”, has further fueled my interest.  When I was flipping through one of my many book apps and saw The Other Side of the Coin, I was intrigued.  Despite the title of “Dresser”, Miss Kelly does not actually help the Queen put on her clothes.  The author tells us the Queen is quite capable of dressing herself, although when the Queen wears a royal robe, she does require the assistance of Miss Kelly and a few others.

The author, Angela Kelly, is the Queen’s Dresser and she is responsible for selecting the Queen’s outfits including hats and jewelry.  In addition, Mis Kelly chooses fabrics and designs several of the Queen’s outfits each year.  Selecting outfits is done in the context of the meeting or event and nuance matters.  I was surprised to discover how much people read into the Queen’s wardrobe, even going so far as to bet on the color of the Queen’s hat for Royal Ascot.

Miss Kelly was a single parent and head housekeeper for a British Ambassador when she met the Queen and the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip.  When asked by the Royal Couple who would next be visiting the embassy, Miss Kelly declined to share that information citing confidentiality.  Prince Phillip was a bit put off, but Miss Kelly’s fortitude struck a chord with the Queen and, within a year, Miss Kelly was working at Buckingham Palace.

Miss Kelly has a passion for all things fashion – fabrics, buttons, purses and hats – but the short book goes beyond that theme and tells the story of a woman who has matured into a role in an environment previously dominated by men and heavily steeped in protocol.  Miss Kelly does not “kiss and tell” so don’t expect any salacious details about the Royal Family.  Instead, the book is a collection of delightful encounters with the Queen and others.  The Other Side of the Coin is also a love story – about a woman who loves her employer and her job, and feels honored to serve, contribute and to bear witness to history in the making. 

Listening to Miss Kelly’s stories are reminiscent of sitting at your Grandmother’s knees and hearing her tell tales of her life.  Overall, it has been a good life for Miss Kelly.  After reading this lovely book, I watched the Queen give the 75th VE Day Anniversary speech.  Her clothes and jewelry were impeccable and at the age of 94, the Queen looked beautiful.  Hats off to Miss Kelly knows how to dress a Queen.