Stand-in Queen Reigns Supreme Ahead of Diamond Jubilee
When Queen Elizabeth II marks her diamond jubilee next month, she will be following in the footsteps of an unassuming 69-year-old who has spent 20 years working as her low-key royal stand-in.
Ella Slack, a retired BBC producer who lives in the Isle of Man, was called in to stand in for the queen as broadcasters and event organisers rehearsed for celebrations to mark the monarch's 60 years on the throne.
Jubilee celebrations will reach a climax on June 3 when a flotilla of boats, including the queen's ceremonial barge carrying the royal family, will sail up the River Thames.
"I practised for the river pageant in March wearing a winter coat, my black hat and my £1 (1.25-euro, $1.5) handbag, perched on top of a box," Slack told the Daily Mirror newspaper.
"It was a great honour to sit in on it before the royal family," added Slack, who went aboard the royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, for the rehearsal.
The paper said Slack works for free because it it "such a wonderful privilege".
She added: "How many people in the world have had a chance to sit in a royal landau or walk onto the dais at Windsor Castle even before the Queen has done so?"
The grey-haired stand-in is frequently used because she helps organisers and broadcasters prepare and time their events, a friend told the Daily Telegraph.
"She's invaluable to people planning events involving the Queen, because she walks at a similar pace so she can help with timings of how long things will take. She really enjoys it, it's a bit of a day out," the friend said.