In 2017, the Queen prompted an online frenzy when she stepped out to for the State Opening of the UK Parliament in a beautiful blue outfit with a matching hat that featured five flowers with yellow pistils. A storm ensued as people took to social media to speculate about whether Her Majesty was making a political statement.
That’s because some thought the Queen’s hat strongly resembled the European Union flag, which features 12 gold, five-pointed stars in a circle on a blue background. The year before, the UK had voted in favour of leaving the EU in its “Brexit” vote. Was it a subliminal message saying the Queen supported the EU and was not in favour of leaving it?
Nope, not at all, a new book by Angela Kelly, the Queen’s dressmaker, reveals. In The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe , Her Majesty’s long-time aide and personal confidante wrote that she was surprised by the reaction the outfit and hat prompted. Excerpts from the book are being serialized in the new issue of HELLO! Canada, available now at newsstands across the country and through tablet and iPhone via Apple News.
“I understand from reading the papers and seeing all the articles online that there was almost a meltdown on social media with people speculating that The Queen’s outfit and hat paid tribute to the EU flag, and that The Queen was making a subtle statement about the recent Brexit vote. It was a coincidence but, boy, did it attract a lot of attention, and it certainly made us smile,” Angela wrote.
Angela, who has worked for the Queen since 1994, also provided some background on how the infamous outfit came to be, revealing that at no point did she and milliner Stella McLaren even remotely think the hat resembled the EU flag.
“I already had in stock some material suitable for Her Majesty’s outfit, so after I’d checked the background against which the Queen would be sitting – to be sure that the colours wouldn’t clash – I made the design and passed it, with my instructions, to the in-house dressmaker,” Angela wrote. “Then the milliner, Stella, and I sat down with a cup of tea to discuss the design of the hat.
“We chose a Breton-brim block style, which would create an upturned brim, so Her Majesty’s face could be clearly seen, and The Queen could see everyone in the room. We chose a large square crown to balance the brim and five flowers, made from feathers with tiny seed pearls, painted yellow. It never occurred to Stella and me that people might think that we were copying the European Union flag. The press and the rest of the media were quick to assume that was the case.”
It’s worth noting that Angela’s book has been written with the Queen’s blessing, and she has approved all the anecdotes shared within it for publication.
To read more excerpts from Angela’s new book, pick up Issue 686 of HELLO! Canada, available at newsstands and on tablets and iPhones through Apple News now!