Queen Elizabeth Jones: Fancy living like Her Maj for the day I tried it, says our fashion queen – and all that waving and smiling was hell!
23:00 GMT, 11 May 2012
Monarch make-over: Hours of work transform Liz Jones
My face hurts from smiling. My left arm feels as though I have been lifting weights.
My neck aches from supporting so much furniture on my head: a wig, then a crown, then a hat.
Quite a big hat, actually, and dingly-dangly earrings. I don’t think I’ve ever been more exhausted.
I have just spent the day as Her
Majesty the Queen to find out just what goes into looking and behaving
immaculately at all times and how it feels to be the most famous woman
in the world.
I had a
crack team to help me with my transformation — a stylist, make-up artist
and wig expert — before I stepped out onto the streets to meet my
subjects, and the real work began.
knew so much effort was required to keep a hat on one’s head And those
How has Her Majesty coped for 80-plus years with not
being able to scratch her nose or — in my case — tap out a text And
don’t get me started on the smiling and waving.
most importantly, there’s the poise, the manners and living under
There’s an awful lot that goes into being a monarch, I
can tell you.
at Buckingham Palace, I admit I was nervous about being dressed as the
Queen so close to home.
Such irreverent behaviour would have earned me a
spell in the Tower a few centuries back, but the attendant policemen,
although shifting uneasily on their feet, did not approach.
this is 2012 and the tourists did. In their droves. The level of mania
incited by the sight of someone vaguely royal in their midst was
unsettling: I am videoed, photographed and Tweeted relentlessly.
odd, to be gawped at and have small children run up and offer me
flowers. I bent from the hip, like the Queen, causing my hat to fall on
one child, and then had no idea what to do with the darned blooms, which
dripped water on my shoes.
is the etiquette when one’s hat is whipped away by a gust of wind The
Queen must have sourced some good, long hat pins during her 60 years on
also learned to behave as if she was carved from stone. Unseemly
reactions to unexpected events can never be becoming for a monarch.
'The Queen wears a bright colour to stand out in the crowd, although the shade is not decided until that morning, once HM has been updated on the weather,' said Liz
was amazed when I found out how long it takes to achieve the Queen’s
‘look’. Fai, the make-up artist, Desmond, a wizard with wigs, and
stylist Nicole work for hours on my make-over.
Although the Queen’s look is simple, it is very difficult to achieve and almost impossible for a mere commoner to sustain.
First, she does not wear much make-up: just foundation, powder, blusher and a natural pink lipstick.
There is very little adornment on the blue, lively eyes (my lash extensions are summarily removed), merely a frosted pale shadow above. This means that during a long day, she doesn’t have to worry about mascara smudges. The once finely-arched brows of her youth are now blurred and sparse. My brows are duly obliterated with powder.
Two deep tramlines from nose to mouth are drawn on by Fai using a purple pencil: these crevasses are the reason the Queen looks dour when not smiling.
'How odd, to be gawped at and have small children run up and offer me flowers. I bent from the hip, like the Queen, causing my hat to fall on one child,' said Liz
I am given crepey skin around the eyes with an application of latex, but my face is largely left free of prosthetics. What does surprise me while studying pictures of Elizabeth’s face (I was named after a Taylor, not a Windsor) is that she has surprisingly few wrinkles: there are the two curious horizontal lines just below her nose, a few crow’s feet and a certain pouchiness around the jowls. But that’s it — remarkable for a woman in her 80s.
At the start of this long day, I put her soft, peaches and cream, very even-toned complexion down to the lack of stress or hardship in her life. Oh, how very wrong could I have been!
Next comes the wig: my own dark mop was pinned up and secured beneath the buttocks of a pair of tights. Then, a curly grey wig was pulled over the top.
The Queen has had her hair styled by Ian Carmichael for 14 years, and her unchanging style — springy curls around the nape, a flattering, glittery pale silver halo that never veers towards yellow, or iron or, God forbid, blue — made sense: it takes perfectly the addition of a tiara or crown, and is never flattened by a hat. It never blows across her face or gets stuck to her lipstick.
On the tourists: 'The level of mania incited by the sight of someone vaguely royal in their midst was unsettling: I am videoed, photographed and Tweeted relentlessly'
She (and I) never have to touch it or fiddle with it. Perfect!
And then come the clothes! The Queen has a dresser, the trusted and long-serving Angela Kelly, the only ‘servant’ ever to see the Monarch in her Rigby & Peller underwear.
When being fitted by her favourite couturier, Berkshire-born Stewart Parvin, 45, the Queen wears a body stocking that covers her from neck to ankle (she loves being filled in on all the latest celebrity gossip while she is pinned and tucked).
My ‘dresser’, Nicole, puts me into a long, cream vintage gown which she then immediately clutters with the intrusive ceremonial sash and brooches.
Three-quarter Cornelia James gloves are pulled on, with diamond bracelets on top, but rings, curiously, remaining underneath. The formal gowns are always simple and unadorned, given the jewellery (off duty, she wears pearls).
'I wonder how the Queen has managed to do her job for so long when ten minutes spent waving out of a taxi window leaves me howling with pain and cramp and cold,' said Liz
The Queen favours a simple silk dress, often in a print, with a co-ordinating coat dress over the top; she finds jackets too messy. Each garment must never crease, ride up or fly away in the wind (hems are weighted).
She needs to be able to wave freely, without fabric ruching on her arm, or tugging.
Shoes have a sturdy two-inch heel, while her favoured handbag, by Launer of London, which costs a modest 1,000, has a strap exactly the correct length to dangle from the crook of an arm (like Her Majesty, my own handbag never contains any cash).
The Queen avoids certain sartorial pitfalls: collars are never too high, as she dislikes getting make-up on her clothes, and she needs to ensure people can see her face from every angle. There are no floppy brims on hats for the same reason.
She wears a bright colour to stand out in the crowd, although the shade is not decided until that morning, once HM has been updated on the weather.
'The Queen favours a simple silk dress, often in a print, with a co-ordinating coat dress over the top; she finds jackets too messy. Each garment must never crease, ride up or fly away in the wind,' said Liz
I soon find the gloves hot and cover them in make-up because I keep touching my face and lipstick. I find I can’t text (the Queen probably does not feel the need to social network using a BlackBerry).
The handbag becomes insanely heavy, but I’m not allowed to put it down, sling it somewhere or hug it.
I’d studied footage of the way the Queen walks: she never rushes, as people waiting to watch her pass would be offended. As someone who is always rushing, I find it frustratingly difficult to slow to a regal pace.
The level of concentration required has utterly floored me, and I am 30 years her junior.
The real Queen: 'The level of concentration required has utterly floored me,' said Liz
Watching her arrival in full regalia at Westminster on Wednesday, I can now appreciate the level of yogic poise and almost superhuman gravitas required to carry off the jewels and the ermine without looking foolish, or bursting into giggles.
Here are a few things I must do to be just like her. Never allow my eyes to glaze over. I must listen to what others are saying, and never yawn. I must not shiver in the cold, or cross my legs, or slouch.
Or show my knees. Or be anything other than serene and benign while tourists in crazy outfits take my photograph.
Finally, back in the studio, I pose for a more formal photograph, and as I do so I think of all the formal photographs the Queen must have stood to attention for. All the sittings for painters. All the displays of traditional dance she has sat through. The processions. The dinners next to men who do not speak English.
Oh, the backache, the boredom! The times she would have so preferred to have curled up indoors, watching Homeland.
I wonder how the Queen has managed to do her job for so long when ten minutes spent waving out of a taxi window leaves me howling with pain and cramp and cold.
Of course, her life has been stressful: to glide through it as if you are on casters is so much harder than what the rest of us do.
But most of all I pity the Duchess of Cambridge, who has a lifetime ahead of her spent sitting on tiny chairs in primary schools, finding the banal endlessly fascinating.
How wonderful it must be, I’d always thought, to live in a palace. What do the royals actually do for their money
Quite a lot, I realise. I can’t wait to rip the wig from my head, and let my hair down. Literally. I want to roll my eyes, and yawn, and get back to life among the common people.
The Queen is certainly made of sterner stuff than me. Let’s hope Kate is, too.