RICHARD KAY on the Queen’s two weeks of virtual isolation

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All her life, she was surrounded by people, from her awakening until the last night.

There is the dresser who brings her morning cup of tea and the maid who tosses her sheets each night, placing a bottle of hot water comfortably between the sheets.

For the Queen, 94 years old this month, her domestic staff is not only a reassuring presence, but a vital contact with the outside world. They bring him news beyond the palace walls, as well as the latest gossip under the stairs.

With some, she has formed a particularly close bond, and these bonds have never been more necessary than now because she, like the rest of us, observes government rules on social distancing.

The Queen's two weeks of virtual self-isolation at Windsor Castle were far from straightforward after one of her main employees was diagnosed with Covid-19. Pictured: Queen speaks to Boris Johnson of Windsor Castle for his weekly coronavirus hearing

The Queen’s two weeks of virtual self-isolation at Windsor Castle were far from straightforward after one of her key employees was diagnosed with Covid-19. Pictured: Queen speaks to Boris Johnson of Windsor Castle for his weekly coronavirus hearing

But the Queen’s two weeks of virtual self-isolation at Windsor Castle were far from straightforward after one of her key employees was diagnosed with Covid-19.

For the young woman involved, one of the few foot women in the royal family, is the queen’s dog walker, whose tasks consist in exercising Her Majesty’s dorgis – the corgi-dachshund crosses – Candy and Vulcan .

And that meant that she was deprived for part of that period by some of her most trusted personal assistants, who had to self-isolate because they had been in contact with the footman.

A figure rarely far from his side, however, is Paul Whybrew, 61, who is the Queen’s Page of the Backstairs and Sergeant-at-Arms.

Reliable Whybrew is also one of the Queen’s longest-serving employees – he roughed up palace intruder Michael Fagan when he broke into her bedroom in 1982. But with other familiar faces forced to isolate themselves , the queen was cared for by two of Prince Philip’s most famous. senior domestic helpers, pages William Henderson and Stephen Niedojadlo.

For the Queen, there are compensations, and being reunited with Philip is one. They are pictured together last year

For the Queen, there are compensations, and being reunited with Philip is one. They were photographed together last year

She knows them both, of course, because they usually take care of the Duke of Edinburgh at Wood Farm, his retirement pantyhole on the Sandringham estate. The royal aides planned for the same staff to stay with the couple for a month before a new team was dispatched from London.

But the news that the sick footman is recovering – and that no other infections have been diagnosed – means that some of the Queen’s regular staff are allowed to return to her side.

HM, meanwhile, has adjusted its own routine. Unable to visit the stables in Windsor, she checked the well-being of her horses with their grooms on the phone.

In a gesture appreciated by staff, many of whom are confined to small apartments in Windsor, it allowed them to use the royal family’s pool. She also opened the garden of Buckingham Palace so that those who live in the royal meia can exercise there.

Philip, 98 (photo), who retired from public life in 2017, is said to have self-isolated in his wake

Philip, 98 (photo), who retired from public life in 2017, is said to have self-isolated in his wake

“This means a lot to the staff locked up in small apartments, some with the family,” said an assistant. At the Palace, only the gardeners working in the 40-acre gardens and the computer technicians keeping the Queen connected to Downing Street and Commonwealth leaders have stood still.

Elsewhere, the large building is almost empty. For the Queen, there are compensations, and being reunited with Philip is one. For the first time in a certain silence around Windsor.

“I’m sure she will have noticed many more birdsong than she has had in decades,” said the friend. Philip, 98, who retired from public life in 2017, would isolate himself in his wake.

“He always has things to do, whether it’s paperwork or finding a new biography to read,” said an assistant.

One person who has been with the Queen throughout her stay in Windsor is Angela Kelly, her principal dresser and confidant. In recent years, the daughter of the crane operator, raised on a terrace of the Liverpool council, has become an essential palace figure.

One person who has been with the Queen throughout her stay in Windsor (photo) is Angela Kelly, her principal dresser and confidante.

One person who has been with the Queen throughout her stay in Windsor (photo) is Angela Kelly, her principal dresser and confidante.

Few were able to assure a more reassuring presence to the Queen during this period of isolation. One of Angela’s main daily tasks will be washing the queen’s hair, fixing it and making sure the old-fashioned cone dryer Her Majesty prefers to use is ready. A hobby shared by the two women is watching the night sky together.

With so much less light pollution, helpers think there’s a good chance they’re staring at the stars. “What the Queen likes about Angela is that she never tries to be anything but herself,” says a senior assistant.

“There is a real warmth between them which has become a company.”

We can be sure they will watch TV together – Countdown on Channel 4 is a favorite show. They are so close that when the Queen gets a new pair of shoes, Angela pushes them in – the two women are four feet tall.

One story around the servants is that Angela occasionally gives the Queen a foot massage after commitments that involve standing for long periods, such as investitures.

He will need it less now. Ms. Kelly was even allowed to write two books on her boss. The first, Dressing The Queen, focused on the royal wardrobe.

The second, published last year and titled The Other Side of the Coin, included remarkable images and anecdotes about the Queen. Now that the two have been brought together in isolation by the coronavirus crisis, the experience could lead to their most intriguing collaboration to date.

The word among the staff is that there must be a third book; this time, the subject is the queen and her beloved dogs. Ms. Kelly left a clue in the last chapter of the book when she wrote, “Thank you for reading. I hope we will see each other … until next time. ‘

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