“It started because I was at the BBC and the producer doing [the Remembrance Day service at] the Cenotaph came to see me and said that the Queen has 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?,” she explains.
“Well, I said to him, ‘Would you like me to come and stand in the position for you?’ 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.”
Since then, Ella has stood in for the Queen at more than 50 event rehearsals. While she’s been allowed to give a royal wave while riding in the Queen’s carriage, there’s one duty she’s strictly not allowed to replicate.
“I’ve never been allowed to sit on the throne in the House of Lords,” she says.
“I have to lurk above it – it’s a very strict rule.”
Surprisingly, Ella has never been paid for her contribution, but insists her volunteer royal body-double role has been a “pleasure and an honour”.
She explains that she feels pride in her small but vital role.
“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 goes on to admit that being the Queen’s stand-in for the past three decades of her reign has been a wonderful and interesting experience, though she’s now retired.
“It’s almost like living two lives, really,” says Ella, adding that “people call you Your Majesty and people come up and curtsey” when she’s dressed for the occasion.
“Everything the Queen does is practised and because it has to be timed to perfection, she’s never made a single mistake. She’s truly a remarkable woman,” Ella adds.
And, while she might only be filling in for the rehearsals, Ella admits she does succumb to a bout of stage fright every now and again.
“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 a close-up,” she explains.
“But how many people in the world can say they have done something like that?”
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