The Queen’s handbag

We delve into the mysteries of Her Majesty’s most famous accessory.


It was the faithful (1), discreet companion of a woman who lived her life almost entirely in the public eye.  Queen Elizabeth II’s sturdy (2) yet elegant handbag was an inseparable part of her royal style. So, why did she choose this particular design? And what did she keep inside it?

Decades before the term It-Bag was coined, the Queen found a daytime shape that worked whether she was on an informal walkabout, a state engagement, or enjoying a trip to the races. Made by Launer, it was boxy with short handles. Always carried on the left arm, it was compact enough not to get in the way when she shook hands, yet big enough to hold everything she needed. 

And what were the contents? After all, she didn't need to carry money, driving licence, keys or a mobile phone...

Well-informed opinion says that along with her reading glasses, other practical must-haves (3) included a handkerchief, mints, a fountain pen and a portable hook used to hang the bag neatly under tables.

MORE: The twists of fate that made Elizabeth II a Queen

Phil Dampier, the author of What's In The Queen's Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets, tells HELLO! that she also carried treatns (4) for her much-loved corgis, sometimes a crossword cut from a newspaper and a penknife. Phil adds that the Queen liked to have a diary and a small camera, which she used to take pictures of the VIPs she met. It seems that one of the world’s most photographed women sometimes liked to be on the other side of the lens!

Her Majesty also kept a mirror and a lipstick handy, as well as a small metal make-up case that her husband Prince Philip had given to her as a wedding gift, and which was one of her most precious possessions.

How many handbags did the Queen collect over the course of her long life? At least 300, in black, white or beige, colours that coordinated effortlessly (5) with every outfit. 

1. Faithful = loyal
2. Sturdy = strong, solid
3. Must-have = essential
4. Treat = something that gives pleasure
5. Effortless = easy 

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