Queen Elizabeth, always a picture of charm and grace, is known for carrying a purse with her while in public. The purse, as it turns out, serves as much more than just a fashionable accessory — in addition to holding a few personal items, the Queen’s purse carries out a fascinating role of communication.
Always needing to maintain proper etiquette and class, it makes sense that the Queen would refrain from offending someone during a public social event, so far as she is able. According to The Telegraph, Her Majesty uses her trademark handbag to silently communicate her royal commands in situations where speaking out loud may leave someone feeling slighted.
“If the Queen places her handbag on the table at dinner, it signals that she wants the event to end in the next five minutes,” The Telegraph reports. “If she puts her bag on the floor, it shows she’s not enjoying the conversation and wants to be rescued by her lady-in-waiting.”
Always keeping a watchful eye on Her Majesty, staff members know how to handle the Queen’s requests with grace and tact. In fact, according to royal historian Hugo Vickers, one may not even realize the Queen had initiated the end of the conversation.
“It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag move from one hand to the other,” Vickers told PEOPLE in 2011. “It would be done very nicely. Someone would come along and say, ‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.’”
If a situation is particularly dire, the Queen will spin her ring around her finger. The discreet spinning sends a message that she’s ready to leave — now.
As expected, it’s been reported that the Queen does carry some practical and sentimental items in her handbag as well. Lipstick and a mirror have their place inside, as well as a neatly folded bill or two, for times when she needs to make a church donation.
While the Queen doesn’t really need a cell phone, royal biographer Penny Junor believes Her Majesty carries one anyway. “She does have a mobile and she speaks to her grandchildren on it,” Junor said. “I don’t know whether it’s a smartphone, though.”
Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Woman Behind The Throne, has explained that the purse also contains a special hook. The hook has a suction cup attached to one end, which Her Majesty uses to securely hold her purse under tables during mealtimes.
Finally, Phil Dampier, author of What’s In The Queen’s Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets, claims that Her Majesty keeps a few sentimental photos and trinkets in her purse as well. After all, who doesn’t keep a few photos of their children and grandchildren neatly tucked away in their purse or wallet?
As for anything else the Queen may need, well, she’s got her ladies-in-waiting to handle that. In her own hands, she carries all that she needs — sweet reminders of family, practical beauty items, and a secret code that leaves the rest of us simply captivated.
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