78, formerly a bank cashier, from Harrow, Middlesex
I’ve always worn pearls and pearl earrings, and have never been one for miniskirts. However, although people have been telling me since I was 17 that I resemble the Queen (when she was still Princess Elizabeth), it wasn’t until the recession of the Seventies that my husband and I thought we’d see if we could make some money from it.
Ron was in the building trade and times were tough, so I dressed up in a beige dress and jacket, did my hair in the Queen’s style, and we walked down The Mall. He had a pair of earrings made for me exactly the same as the ones she wears. People were nudging and whispering, and a couple of Americans came up and said, ‘Pardon me, Sir, is that the Queen?’ It worked!
Ron found me an agent: one of my first jobs was an advert for flea powder. I had to sit in the back of a Daimler with a couple of corgis.
In 1985, Ron died. He was a royalist, and so proud of me, so I built up work as a lookalike, feeling sure he was looking over me.
Best job I’ve ever done? Probably the 25th anniversary episode of Dr Who – Silver Nemesis. I was supposedly at Windsor Castle (it was actually filmed at Arundel). Dr Who was trying to warn me that invaders were coming from space. I was on the terrace being followed about by the corgis. I had to dandle my fingers in bits of sausage in my handbag so the dogs would stay with me without being on leads.
In 2002, I was flown to Uganda for the height of the social season: goat racing. I had to make a speech before watching these reluctant goats being pushed around a grass track: they kept stopping to eat and to mount one another.
You can’t make a living from this – it’s incredibly unpredictable – but it does put the jam on the bread and you stay in some beautiful places. I’ve done a lot with the controversial photographic artist Alison Jackson; I’m the only ‘queen’ she uses, and a couple of years ago I flew out to Las Vegas to have photos taken with Elton John. We sat on the piano stool together, with corgis at our feet, while he played.
The biggest problem is hats. There aren’t so many places that do them, and a particular colour – as for T-Mobile’s Royal Wedding dance commercial – can be hard to find.
If anyone had told me years ago that I’d be doing this, I would never have thought I’d have had the courage. But I’ve always been a great admirer of the Queen. I slept overnight in Pall Mall for the Coronation. When my grandchildren see the Queen on TV, they say, ‘There’s Nanna Mary!’
Sometimes I’m out shopping and someone will say, ‘Has anyone ever told you...’ It still gives me a thrill.
‘a little younger than the Queen’, formerly a book-keeper, who lives ‘not too far from Buckingham Palace’
I’ve got a completely mad life. I’ve always been quite extrovert and I don’t mind drawing attention to myself. I don’t do it deliberately, but I can’t help it.
I love to dance, so at private parties I’ll do the serious bit, reading speeches in my posh voice, before asking the DJ if he can play Dancing Queen. I always get a wonderful reaction. Usually a younger man will get up and dance with me before everyone joins in.
I don’t just do ‘meet and greet’; I do ‘mix and mingle’. One of my props is a sword. I’ve had Jerry Springer down on one knee; everyone says I should have let the sword slip.
I always hear people whispering ‘Is that the Queen?’ when I use public transport. If I’m working outside, foreigners always rush up to me – they don’t realise the lack of bodyguards is a giveaway.
The year the Queen was 80 I decided to go on a cruise. But soon the purser came looking for me with a frightful face and said the Queen’s equerry was on board. It was a few weeks before the Queen went on the Hebridean Princess – I didn’t know she was about to do that. They thought that I was a plant from a newspaper who was going to show them all up, but I’d never do anything like that. I’m a great royalist.
It was when I went grey about 20 years ago that I began to look like the Queen. I’d just divorced and sent some photos to London Weekend Television. I was invited to appear regularly on Beadle’s About. The victim would always be so relieved to discover I wasn’t the real Queen.
I’ve been in five feature films, including one with Colin Firth called What a Girl Wants, and I was in the send-up Bond film, Never Say Never Mind. I worked with Simon Cowell on a commercial for the recent series of Britain’s Got Talent.
I have an eye for detail and I study the Queen closely. I’ve always been into fashion, so that helps. My last tiara – I have three – cost me £1,500 and was made by a catwalk jeweller. The huge crown is always hired; it’s so heavy it would fall off your head if you moved.
I’ve stuck pictures of the Queen in a notebook, with shoes on one page, hats on another, and close-ups showing her make-up. She uses white eye shadow and she doesn’t have a cupid-bow lip, so you have to go straight across. They don’t have hood hairdryers in most salons these days; it’s all blow-dryers and they’re no good. So I shape my hair and go to bed wearing old-fashioned curlers and a hair net.
I’ve got half a dozen dresses with hats that match – I call them my ‘Ascot outfits’ – which I can wear with white or black gloves. My hats have been made by two of the Queen’s milliners, Philip Somerville and Freddie Fox.
I’m run off my feet for the Jubilee. In a normal year you can go for weeks without a single booking, but this year it’s two or three a week!
76, formerly a school secretary, from Tamworth, Staffordshire
It was in the Golden Jubilee year that people started to say, ‘Oh, you do look like the Queen’, so I had some photos taken, sent them to an agency and got straight on a terrible TV show with Dale Winton called Stars and Their Doubles.
Since then I’ve advertised mattresses in China and been to Mexico to make a TV commercial for tortillas. There were so many takes, I ended up eating loads and they were terrible. But it’s wonderful still to be working at my age.
These days I mostly do private engagements, like handing over birthday cards to centenarians or giving out 60th wedding anniversary cards. But last year I got involved in a short film about William and Kate getting married. My job was to open a door and then recoil in horror at what I saw inside. I thought that it sounded a bit dodgy, but my agent assured me there was nothing naughty about it. However, when I got to the job I tried to leave – the two people playing William and Kate were clearly up for anything. Reluctantly I went ahead – only to find out it had been broadcast on the rather racy show Celebrity Juice on ITV2. Someone at my tennis club said rather disdainfully, ‘I don’t think you should have done that’.
For the real Royal Wedding I was taken to Buckleberry, Berkshire, where Kate grew up. All the foreign cameras were trained on me and Anne Diamond interviewed me for the BBC. I’m not a ‘soundalike’ but I can do a passable impression, slowly enunciating every letter into the microphone and stopping now and then to lick my lips.
It’s also a question of getting that slow and deliberate walk right, as well as the wave of the hand, and how she arranges her handbag as she gets out of the car.
Often, when I’m driving to a booking, I have to stop at a service station to stretch my legs. The first time I took a headscarf and put it over my hair – I have a lovely hairdresser who makes my curly white hair look just like the Queen’s – but of course people still did a double take.
The Queen has a more robust figure than me, so I have to pad myself out with kidney-shaped things in my bra. I learned this trick while I was working with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike at a Christmas party in Birmingham Town Hall – and I watched her instantly increase the size of her bosom; it was an eye-opening moment.
This article was first published in the June 2012 issue of Saga Magazine. For more original and thought-provoking articles like this,
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