Jalayne Sutherland’s Halloween costume was such a smash, she gained worldwide fame, even receiving a letter from Queen Elizabeth II’s Lady-in-Waiting, who relayed her majesty’s wishes for “a very Merry Christmas.”
Not bad for a girl who hadn’t turned 2 when she showed off her adorable Halloween outfit, accompanied by her two pet corgis.
Jalayne’s mother, Katelyn (Fuller) Sutherland, graduated with Hamilton High School’s Class of 2009 and has lived in Florence, Kentucky, about five years with husband, Aaron. While she was in college at the University of Rio Grande east of Portsmouth, she became fascinated with the queen.
“I’ve been a fan of the queen, and then when I found out she had corgies, I wanted one, too,” she said. “I really didn’t know what a corgi was until I knew she had them. Then when I started looking them up in college, I was like, ‘I want one.’”
Those corgis are Rascal, 9, and his nephew, Jack, 4.
Sutherland has strong kinship with the queen because, “I truly admire how the queen walks by faith,” she said. “I think she’s a wonderful woman. She’s dedicated her whole life to being the queen.”
When Jalayne was born (her name is pronounced JUH-lane) “they really took to her, always laying by her,” Katelyn Sutherland said of the corgies. “And when she started eating, they loved her even more, because obviously they got all the crumbs on the floor.”
“She just absolutely loves them, and they’re basically best friends,” she said.
Before Halloween, Katelyn wanted to create a costume that could include the dogs. The queen naturally came to mind. And Rascal and Jack got to trick-or-treat as themselves, no costumes needed.
But Katelyn spent about two months replicating one of Queen Elizabeth’s snappy outfits, a sky-blue coat and hat with blue pearls, a broach, purse and pearls. Taking two months to complete the outfit, she hand-sewed the hat herself, though she hadn’t stitched since ninth-grade home economics class. Her first attempt at the hat didn’t sit on Jalayne’s head right, so she made another. And she altered the queen’s coat, trimming off its tail.
Girl and her dogs go viral
“When I posted the pictures on Facebook of what we thought was just sharing with friends and family, it kind of just exploded, and so many people were just reaching out and were like, ‘You’ve got to find a way. The queen has to see this picture,” Katelyn said. “So I just decided on a whim, ‘I’ll just write her a letter, and I just sent her a picture of Jalayne standing there with the two dogs.”
Katelyn wished the queen better health, “Because it was the week she wasn’t feeling well,” she said. “We didn’t hear anything back until two days after Christmas.”
In the meantime, many people asked if she heard anything from the royals yet.
The letter was in the stack of mail, “and I didn’t even catch it at first, and then my husband looked at me, and he was like, ‘That says Royal Mail at the top of the envelope.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. It really does.’”
She carefully opened it, not wanting to rip the letter, “and to help her understand a little more what we were talking about, I took the hat that I made for her Halloween costume and I put it on her.”
To let all her friends know the queen had responded, she posted it on Facebook, “and it just went viral. I can’t even keep up with my phone it’s so crazy. Yesterday I talked to Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Germany. It just went nuts.”
She’s heard from magazines, radio stations, online posters and others.
Jalayne turned 2 on Dec. 30, and already, she has mastered the queen’s royal wave, her slow twisting of her upper arm.
“And she highly expects to be treated as a princess — or a queen, I should say,” Katelyn Sutherland said. “We just skipped princesses. We went straight to queen.”
Grandparents Jill and Kenny Fuller in Hamilton are proud.
“I think it’s crazy,” Jill Fuller said. “But it’s also awesome, too, just the fact that the queen took time out of their day just to answer her back. I know my daughter never expected to even get a response back.”
As for Jalayne, “She does act like she’s the boss, but we have to bring her back down a little bit. But she played the part very well. She walked around with her purse and her little bucket like she was the queen,” Fuller said.
Who will Jalayne dress as next year?
Stylish American actress Megan Markle, who with husband Prince Harry no longer is a working member of the royal family, is one possibility, mom said.
She plans to frame the letter and hang it in her room, “so she’ll be able to cherish it forever,” her mother said. She learned “the queen is much more in reach than I ever thought she’d be,” she said. “I feel so honored, you know?”
But the biggest happiness from it all is, “Our daughter brings us joy every single day,” she said. “So to be able to share this little bit of joy with somebody else is heartwarming.”
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