If you think the Duchess of Cambridge or Duchess of Sussex has an impressive handbag collection, just wait until you see Queen Elizabeth II’s.
And they’re not cheap, either. In 2017, the Daily Mail reported that each bag costs £1,650 ($3,000 CAD). That’s a whopping $600,000 worth of bags.
That may seem a little much, but the brand is quick to note that the Queen often recycles her multitude of bags for different events, and will frequently have the fittings replaced instead of purchasing a new one. And, she’s apparently kept all of the Queen Mother’s bags, too. Plus, she received her first from the brand in 1968.
According to the Daily Mail, Buckingham Palace usually commissions five bags per year.
Despite the high price tag of the royal-approved bag, it’s obvious the Queen gets a lot of use from her hefty handbag collection. She’s rarely seen without a Launer bag hanging from the crook of her arm – even when she’s at home.
In 2015, the Queen made headlines when she clutched her handbag throughout a meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau at Buckingham Palace. But there’s a reason she’s always got her purse nearby — and it’s not just her love of the looks.
According to The Telegraph, her purse is used for much more than just a place to store her lipstick —it’s used to send important signals to her staff.
“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,” a 2012 story claims.
“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.”
And, according to a People article, if she moves her bag from arm to arm, you’re in trouble, too.
“It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag move from one hand to the other,” royal historian Hugo Vickers told the magazine. This means that she’s ready to wrap things up.
But the biggest indicator the Queen is ready to get out: spinning her ring, Vickers says. That apparently indicates to staff she needs to be rescued immediately.
It’s kind of genius, no? Of course the Queen has a way to get out of an awkward conversation more easily than the rest of us plebeians. We’ve got some serious work to do, guys.
But what does she keep in it? For the most part, it’s pretty simple stuff, according to royal experts: a camera, glasses, sunglasses, lipstick (Clarins is reportedly her go-to brand), a hankerchief, and a little bit of cash for church collection.
According to Phil Dampier in What’s In The Queen’s Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets, she also carries some more personal items – like good luck charms including miniature dogs, horses and saddles. Dampier claims she also keeps family photos including one of Prince Andrew after his safe return from the Falklands in 1982. Oh, and she apparently carries purse hooks to fasten under the table so her handbag never has to touch the ground.
“She would feel lost without it,” Dampier once told People. about the importance of Her Majesty’s handbag. “It’s her most valued possession and a valuable tool. The Queen would never go anywhere without her handbag. The only time she might not have it by her side is when she is in a completely relaxed environment.”