LIFE LESSONS Rigby & Peller’s June Ken­ton

Even the most pow­er­ful women need sup­port, which is where June Ken­ton comes in. The woman be­hind Rigby & Peller shares the se­crets of help­ing cus­tomers including the Queen and Princess Diana… and now Theresa May

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - News -

I’ve been corsetière to the Queen for 30-odd years, and it has been a joy. It’s the most per­sonal Royal role you can have. The first meet­ing was very nervewrack­ing, but we did a fit­ting and The Queen ap­proved of me. We had the new Prime Min­ster come to the shop just after she got the job, too. The re­la­tion­ships in this busi­ness are al­ways good, be­cause you’re mak­ing women feel bet­ter.

Fit­ting a bra can be an emo­tion­ally in­ti­mate thing. I’ve learnt to be a good lis­tener. Most women are walk­ing around wear­ing the wrong size bra, and that means most women are un­com­fort­able. You should be able to put your bra on in the morn­ing and not think of it again un­til you take it off at night. A good bra can make you feel a mil­lion dol­lars.

Princess Diana was gor­geous. The re­la­tion­ship we had was won­der­ful. She used to phone up and say: ‘I’m com­ing to head­quar­ters!’ That’s what she used to call the shop. We used to save up the posters we had of women wear­ing our lin­gerie and I’d give them to Diana. She would let the boys have them for their rooms at Eton – all the other boys would be jeal­ous!

I’m lucky to have the most won­der­ful hus­band. Be­ing able to buy a busi­ness with Harold and build it up was bril­liant. Harold dealt with the fi­nances, I went into the fit­ting rooms and ran the shops. It worked be­cause we never stood on one an­other’s toes. Harold has de­men­tia now. He smiles a lot and he is lovely, but he’s not Harold any more. We’re look­ing after him at home and he has won­der­ful car­ers. But we are never alone any more. If there is some­thing you want to do with your part­ner, do it now, be­cause you never know what will hap­pen.

To have family is won­der­ful. Both our chil­dren are adopted. I felt they wouldn’t be given to us if we weren’t phe­nom­e­nal par­ents, so that’s what we tried to be. I al­ways wanted to be at home when the chil­dren got in from school. Make the most of what’s hap­pen­ing in that mo­ment. One day they will have flown the nest and you won’t have had the joy of be­ing with them. I’m a grand­par­ent now, too, which is mag­i­cal.

I count my bless­ings after hav­ing can­cer. We’ve al­ways made lin­gerie for mas­tec­tomy pa­tients, but it’s only when it hap­pens to you that you re­alise how ter­ri­fy­ing it is. I was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer in 2007. I was lucky – I didn’t need chemo­ther­apy or ra­dio­ther­apy, they were able to take it out. Hav­ing can­cer re­ally makes you feel: ‘Oh my good­ness, isn’t life won­der­ful.’ I’m so grate­ful today for how well I am.

You have got to get up with a pur­pose. When we sold the busi­ness, it was lib­er­at­ing at first. But when you stop do­ing some­thing that made you happy for a long time, you have to find other things to be happy about. You have to make a life. For me, friend­ship has be­come very im­por­tant. I’m lucky to have had some of my friends for more than 50 years.

When you stop do­ing some­thing that made you happy, you have to find other things to be happy about

Royal thumbs up: ‘We did a fit­ting, and The Queen ap­proved of me’

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