Queen Elizabeth may be formal in public, but her close confidant knows she’s always up for a good joke!
The 93-year-old monarch’s longtime aide and dressmaker Angela Kelly is sharing glimpse of the Queen behind-the-scenes in her new book, The Other Side Of The Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe, including a prank she pulled for April Fools’ Day.
Kelly purchased a stuffed animal kookaburra ahead of the Queen’s visit to Sydney in 2006 and tried to pass it off as a live animal.
“I had something in mind I thought The Queen would enjoy,” the dresser wrote, according to an excerpt shared with Hello! magazine. “Back at the Governor’s House, I went up to her room to find the perfect perch. I placed it on the balcony in a little cage. I waited for her to return and when she came in I said, ‘Your Majesty, there’s a funny-looking grey bird on your balcony.’ “
She continued, “The Queen looked outside and shouted, ‘It’s a kookaburra!’ I went to open the cage doors and she said loudly, ‘No! Don’t do that! It will fly away! And was behind me in a flash. Turning to Her Majesty while trying to keep a straight face, I solemnly told her it was dead. She looked horrified as I walked towards her with outstretched arms and as she took the bird from my hands, she realized I had been winding her up.”
After revealing the bird was just an April Fools prank, the Queen jokingly told Kelly: “You’re sacked!”
“I was laughing uncontrollably as Her Majesty turned to His Royal Highness [Prince Philip] and said, ‘Do you know what she has just done to me? Angela has had me!’ and I just couldn’t stop giggling,” Kelly recalled.
All these years later, the toy kookaburra remains at Windsor Castle on a sofa in the Queen’s sitting room.
“I laugh to myself every time I see it,” Kelly wrote.
In another anecdote from the new book shared with Hello! magazine, the dresser shared that local merchants in Singapore brought their goods to the airport so the monarch could have a look despite her busy schedule.
“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 colors — and she’ll gesture to me,” Kelly said. “Our selections are always ready for collection on our return, when it’s my responsibility to pay the bill.”
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After collecting parcels of silk, Kelly said a stall owner informed her that she 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,” Kelly wrote.
“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,” she recalled. “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.”