How the Queen used secret handbag signals to communicate with staff

The Queen could say so much with just one small handbag (Picture: Getty/Rex)

Queen Elizabeth II has rarely been seen without one of her signature handbags.

No matter the occasion or the lavishness of her attire, Her Majesty practically always had a matching handbag over her arm.

Not only were her handbags practical fashion statements for the Queen, but, according to various royal experts, they also helped her communicate secret messages to her staff about when she wanted conversations to end.

After all, the Queen has spent a lot of time meeting many famous and important people, so the idea of ​​her tactfully finding ways to extricate herself when she was ready to move on seems to suit Her Majesty just fine. .

On top of that, there had to be a number of security measures in place that her staff would want to implement, making secret purse signals not only polite, but also very practical.

According to author and royal commentator Kristen Meinzer, who shared this information on Newsweek’s The Royal Report podcast, if the Queen swapped her handbag from arm to arm, she was signaling to her ladies-in-waiting that ‘she wanted someone to come and interrupt the conversation.

Queen Elizabeth II outside the palace of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of Tonga, during her visit to Tonga, February 1977.

She has rarely been seen in public without a handbag on her arm (Photo: Serge Lemoine/Getty Images)

The Queen arriving at the Sovereign's Entrance to the Palace of Westminster for the official opening of Parliament in London

Even for her most regal outfit, there was a handbag to walk on (Photo: Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)

And if she really wanted to get out of the situation with immediate effect?

Then the queen would place her bag all the way on the floor. According to royal historian Hugo Vickers, who leaked handbag-centric secrets to People in 2011, the Queen twirling a ring on her finger would send a similar message.

And according to the Telegraph, if there was a dinner Her Majesty wanted to finish in the next five minutes, she would put her bag on the table.

If she happened to take calls at Buckingham Palace, there was also a handy secret buzzer that the Queen could use to signal that it was time for her guests to leave.

The Queen puts her glasses in her handbag during an official visit to India.

What does a queen put in her purse? (Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II waits for King Hassan in Marrakech during her state visit to Morocco, October 27, 1980.

Queen Elizabeth II waits for King Hassan in Marrakech during a state visit to Morocco in 1980 (Photo: Serge Lemoine/Getty Images)

The Queen isn’t the only one who has used her handbag as a handy tool to navigate social events – the Duchess of Cambridge would always have a clutch in front of her with both hands to avoid awkward handshakes.

As for what these iconic handbags were supposed to contain, it was said that the Queen carried a lot of things that one would expect a woman to want on her person.

Although she doesn’t really need things like a wallet or keys, she has already been photographed taking off her glasses and choosing a shade of lipstick for the day.

Clarins was known to be one of her favorite brands, and she wasn’t shy about stocking up on the open – a girl after our hearts.

A royal biographer shared in 2012 that she would also carry a mirror and a £5 or £10 note to donate to the church collection on Sundays.

Queen Elizabeth II waits for King Hassan in Marrakech during her state visit to Morocco, October 27, 1980.

She brought a patent number with her that day (Photo: Serge Lemoine/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with one of their corgis at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, 1959.

Black was her favorite handbag color (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth Ll arriving at Smiths Lawn Windsor Polo after Ascot Races wearing a silk mint green coat and matching dress with a green and white hat designed by milliner Simone Mirman.

If that handbag hit the ground, it was time for the Queen to leave (Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Sally Bedell Smith, who wrote Elizabeth the Queen: The Woman Behind The Throne, also wanted Her Majesty to carry a portable hook she could use to hang her bag wherever she went.

As for the Queen’s style, she was often seen with a handbag by luxury handbag maker Launer London, of which the Queen is said to have first become a fan in the late 1950s after the queen mother bought him one.

The brand has held the Royal Warrant since 1968, and the Queen has often been seen sporting black and matte patent leather designs over the years, and is said to have owned more than 200 handbags in total.

    Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo with Sultan Qaboos bin Said as she visits Al-Alam Palace November 26, 2010 in Muscat, Oman

Ut oh (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

    Queen Elizabeth II attends a military parade, organized by the Household Division (which will be trooped by Scottish Guards from the Queen's Color of F Company) in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle, to mark her official birthday on the 12 June 2021 in Windsor, England.

Sources say she often carried a mirror and money to donate to church collections (Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo – Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II with President Wee Kim Wee (1915 - 2005) in Singapore, October 9, 1989

She was also known to keep lipstick on her from time to time (Photo Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

But even so, Angela Kelly, the Queen’s personal dresser and longtime friend, wrote in her book The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe the Queen Didn’t Have favorite brand.

Angela also noted that Her Majesty likes her bags to be tailor-made, with longer handles, so they don’t snag on her clothing as she meets and shakes hands with dozens of people.

She also wrote: ‘Weight is very important – considering Her Majesty may have to carry it for some time.

If you want to get your own Launer London bag, know that it is sold at a high price.

As of this writing, Selfridges & Co. has a small selection in stock with prices starting at £1,700.

Queen Elizabeth II, detail of handbag and gloves, marks GCHQ's centenary

The Queen Mother is believed to have turned Her Majesty over to the brand (Picture: Hannah McKay – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

A Launer handbag

Launer London has held the Royal Warrant since 1968 (Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

    The Queen's handbag on the floor at her feet at the Royal Smithfield Show.

You can pick one up at Selfridges for a pretty penny (Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Do you have a story to share?

Contact us by emailing

MORE: ‘The quintessential soft pink’: It’s the only nail polish Queen Elizabeth II wore

MORE: How the Queen’s glorious style stole our hearts

MORE: How to Make the Queen’s Favorite No-Bake Chocolate Cookie Cake

How the Queen used secret handbag signals to communicate with staff

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.