Queen Elizabeth II might be a stickler for royal protocols in public but is nowhere as formal as she is perceived. UK-based novelist Sophia Bennett, who has spent years researching the queen and 'The Firm' for her fictional book "The Windsor Knot," insisted that the British monarch is quite casual with her staff if they run into her in the palace corridors.

"You might see her wandering around Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. If staff see her they might give her a brief nod or curtsy but she does not expect them to drop everything they were doing," the author told Yahoo Style UK. In her new novel, Bennett imagines the queen as a detective who investigates a murder while carrying out her official duties.

"(The queen) can play with protocol – she does not break it, but she is not nearly as formalistic as people might imagine," Bennett added.

The author says that her father, who was in the Gurkhas and the National Health Services, has met the queen on several occasions. It was him who secured her a conversation with a few of the palace staff, some of whom are still in their jobs and work close to the queen.

"He has various friends and family members who have worked in the royal households, so I can talk to them. They are very loyal, I don't ask for gossip, for me getting it authentically right is important - what does the queen call people and what does she do on her days off, what she likes," she said.

A palace insider also helped her in one scene in her book, which portrayed a private medal ceremony with just the recipient, the queen and Princess Margaret in attendance. "I spoke to some people who are still in their jobs and working close to the queen, there was one who could tell me about certain medal ceremonies because they had the handbook for them," she said.

Bennett says she first became interested in the royal when she was a child. "I have been working on this for a couple of years and in some ways for 40 years. I first got interested in the queen in 1977 when I was 11, in her Silver Jubilee. I loved costume and fashion and I was given a book about the queen's clothes," she said.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: POOL/Tolga Akmen