Given the massive range of royal events and engagements the Queen is required to undertake every year, and the fact that each and every one of them needs to be co-ordinated and prepared for down to the very last detail, being the country’s leading monarch is extremely time consuming.
No detail of a special royal event goes unnoticed, especially when the monarch herself is involved. And it turns out that broadcasters are so keen to ensure each event goes without a hitch, they need the Queen there during the rehersal, too. But as her busy schedule won’t allow for this, they’ve got the next best thing – producers hire a stand-in for the Queen in order to plan properly for big events such as the Cenotaph ceremony and the State Opening of the Parliament.
Ella Slack is the 74-year-old lady who has committed much of her life to the role of ‘stand-in Queen’, regularly acting as a ‘rehearsal Queen’ for broadcasters when they are planning the transmission of big royal events the world over.
It’s not your typical 9-5, so how did Ella get into such a job? Well, Ella started off as a manager for the BBC’s sports and events department, which also took charge of broadcasting royal events.
Speaking to media company Great Big Story, Ella revealed where it all began. She said,”It started because I was at the BBC and the producer who was doing The Cenotaph came to see me and said that the Queen had sent a message to say, when she stood at the Cenotaph, the sun was in her eyes, and so could we do anything about it?
“Well, I said to him, would you like me to come and stand in the position for you because all the stage managers were six foot men. And then that led on to other things. I went in her royal carriage and rode on the boat up to the Tower of London.”
Ella also revealed that media bosses used her in the role as she’s a perfect match for the Queen in looks, frame and height, and so makes for the perfect substitute Queen when the real monarch isn’t available.
She also revealed that she’s been the first port of call when broadcasters are planning for a myriad of important state occasions, including the Trooping of the Colour, the annual birthday celebration for the Queen where she and the entire family appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
But Ella admits that there are strict rules about what she’s actually allowed to do in role – and that she’s not quite allowed to enjoy the privileges that the Queen herself does.
“And then there will be the state opening of Parliament. I’ve never been allowed to sit on the throne in the House of Lords. I have to lurk above it – it’s a very strict rule. If I’m in a carriage or a car, I will wave.
“The events that I’ve been helping with are events that are transmitted worldwide, and millions of people are going to watch. I look afterwards, and watch the programs going out, and I’ll see her there, and think, I did it for you.”
(Ella standing in for the Queen in the royal box at the Royal Albert Hall)
But despite the excitement, she admitted that it’s a job often not with its nerves, saying, “I do get very nervous, especially in the Royal Albert Hall when they are going to do God Save The Queen and I know I will be in close-up. But how many people in the world can say they have done something like this?”
During the time she’s acted as royal stand-in, Ella has even met a few members of the family, including the Princess Royal, Princess Anne.
Despite doing this for the past 30 years however, this actually hasn’t been Ella’s main job, and remarkably, she doesn’t even accept any payment for doing it.
But clearly Ella’s not too bothered about reimbursement, and instead describes the role as a “pleasure and an honour”.
She’s evidently a fan of the Queen herself too, admitting “Everything the Queen does is practised because it has to be timed to perfection,
“She’s never made a single mistake. She’s truly a remarkable woman.”