Her Majesty the Queen often spent her weekends at Windsor Castle, where the staff have long been accustomed to hearing her say she is ‘going out for a bit’.
The expression was royal shorthand, meaning the monarch drops by for a cup of Darjeeling and a natter at the nearby grace-and-favour home of Angela Kelly, a woman who officially bore the rather grand title of personal assistant, advisor and trustee to the Queen. (jewellery, badges and wardrobe).
Privately, however, 69-year-old divorced Mrs. Kelly is much more than that – as the Queen’s private visits to her cozy home in the grounds next to Windsor Castle illustrate.
Little is known about the woman who served the Queen for so long.
She has been married and divorced three times and has three children who she left behind to be raised by their father, Frank Wylie, her first husband.
She married the shopkeeper in 1971, a month after her son Frank was born. A year later she gave birth to Paul and then daughter Michelle.
But by the early 1980s, the marriage was over and then Mrs. Wylie went to Germany without her children – virtually unheard of at the time – to work in the catering department of the British Army.
A brief marriage to a German man later ended in divorce before meeting husband number three, Irish Guardsman Jim Kelly, in 1989.
They married in 1992, after returning to England, but separated three years later.
It seems her dedication to the job — now she worked for the Queen and spent weeks on end for official visits — helped pay for the union because husband and wife rarely saw each other.
“What she lacks in education she makes up for in her ambition,” Kelly told the Mail in 2014.
“She dropped out of school as a young girl and never had a formal education, but she has made it to the top of her profession. She’s always wanted to work for the Queen and sacrificed a lot for it.’
Despite their vastly different backgrounds, not to mention their religious beliefs, the Roman Catholic daughter of the Liverpool crane operator and Queen Elizabeth II has forged an intriguingly unique mistress-servant relationship over the past 20 years.
Now her influence extends to the younger royals. Prince George was christened in a beautiful long robe made by Mrs. Kelly, who learned to sew from her mother and aunt.
It was a replica of the original Honiton lace and white satin christening robe, designed for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841, which has since been worn by nearly every member of the royal family, but has now become too delicate to use.
Mrs. Kelly is so highly regarded that she has even given advice to the Duchess of Cambridge, suggesting that she follow the Queen’s lead and sew weights into her royal hemlines to prevent them from being lifted by the wind .
She is known throughout the royal family as AK47.
In 2019, the Queen gave her “gatekeeper” her blessing to share details of their relationship in a book The Other Side of the Coin: the Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe.
“The Queen was with me every step of the way,” Ms Kelly said of the project, averting the rumble of unrest down the stairs from fellow royal servants who were expected to remain silent to their graves.