The Queen spent the lockout with her late husband, Prince Philip, and a team of dedicated staff who formed a family bubble.
Image: UK Press via Getty Images)
When England was put under a severe lockdown at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of the Queen’s dedicated staff settled home at Windsor Castle.
They formed a home bubble, dubbed the “HMS Bubble”, in line with government restrictions to keep the monarch and the late Prince Philip safe from the deadly virus.
The small team worked and lived together, and despite living in a castle, they faced many of the same challenges as the rest of us, including haircuts, video call disasters, and boredom.
In a new version of his book The Other Side of the Coin, serialized in Hello! magazine, Angela Kelly, a close friend and trusted aide to the queen, revealed what her daily life was like.
While everyone had to work long hours, they also enjoyed movie and game nights and a sports day in the beautiful gardens. They created WhatsApp chats and sent an unlikely team member to do grocery shopping.
Let’s go through everything we know about life in HMS Bubble.
While it could be assumed that the queen managed to do her hair professionally during the lockout, this actually wasn’t the case and the work went to a very nervous member of her team.
Angela, who has worked with the queen since the early 1990s, was tasked with washing and styling her boss’s hair every week in what has been dubbed “Kelly’s Salon”.
She admits she was so terrified for the first few weeks that she shivered while working and always needed a “strong drink” afterwards.
But nothing was more stressful than combing the monarch for his public message to the nation, and she jokes that he needed “a whole bottle” later.
AFP via Getty Images)
And Angela was also in charge of cutting the queen’s hair before the hairdressers reopened.
She said: “Whenever the queen was hatless it was stressful because there was nowhere to hide, so I had to fix her hair.”
Games nights and Corrie
Once all the work was done, usually around 10pm, the staff sat down for the evenings of UNO and Jenga, with some also trying Nintendo.
According to Angela, they all had a great time and became very close.
He writes: “I think it’s fair to say that everyone has bonded over this period and that solid friendships have been made.”
Angela has also watched many films from Coronation Street, Downton Abbey and Emmerdale, as well as documentaries on deep sea fishing and ancient grave robbers.
Strange shopping routine
Every morning the Queen is awakened by her Pipe Major playing the bagpipes.
He wasn’t part of the bubble, so he stayed out in the yard, but the staff used his extra freedom to send him out for treats.
The staff wrote him their orders and he returned with sweets and chocolate, which he disinfected before leaving for a room where they could collect them later once they left the site.
Wonderful walks and days of activity
Staff were allowed to relax in the Home Park and its pool, which is normally private, so they had plenty of outdoor space to explore.
During a well-deserved free afternoon, the queen gave the team a sports day. They played rounders, fought in hot air balloons, and did foster contests.
But the highlight of the day came when their host made a surprise appearance to present the awards after seeing some of the activities hidden behind a bush.
The queen sent champagne and cookies to keep the team entertained.
The new version of Angela’s book, The Other Side of the Coin, will go on sale in May.