Queen’s handbag: What is inside it? Contents and diplomatic role her Launer bag plays

At every royal wedding, every royal engagement and event she attends, royal fans have noticed the Queen is never without a little black handbag. She uses her handbag as a signal of communication between her and her ladies-in-waiting, and other staff members.

This was a trick used by Queen Victoria, who would use a handheld fan to convey certain messages. Queen Elizabeth has modernised the custom and uses her handbag.

The Queen can say she would like an event to end, to stop talking to someone, or for a member of staff to come and join her, all through a few simple movements.

If Her Majesty places her handbag on the table at dinner, staff are to take it as a cue that she wants the event to end in the next five minutes.

If she places it on the floor, it means she is not enjoying the conversation and wants to be rescued by her lady-in-waiting.

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Royal historian Hugo Vickers said the Queen carries her handbag on her left arm, so when she switches it, it is a clear signal she is bored and wants to move on.

This move is a discreet directive she would like staff to help end the conversation, according to Vickers.

Vickers said to People magazine: “It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag move from one hand to the other.”

However, royal staff always attempt to interject in a friendly way before directing them away from the Queen.


Phil Dampier, author of ‘What’s in the Queen’s Handbag And Other Royal Secrets’, said the Queen packs: “treats for her much-loved corgis; sometimes a crossword cut from a newspaper by a servant in case she has time to kill; a penknife, a diary and a small camera”.

The camera is used by the Queen “to take pictures of visiting presidents and other VIPs”.

The penknife is, according to Dampier, a “throwback to her days as a girl guide”.

The Queen’s bag holds her glasses, mint lozenges, a fountain pen, a metal make-up case reportedly gifted by Prince Philip, and good luck charms.

She also carries either a £5 or £10 note to give as a donation to the church collection on Sundays when she goes to Church.

The Queen’s bag brand of choice has remained unchanged for five decades.
British brand Launer has been supplying bags to the Queen ever since 1968.

On their website, Launer discussed their Royal Warrant appointment.

It says: “The Warrant is a sign of excellence, quality and patronage which Launer has enjoyed for more than fifty years.

“It is highly treasured and awarded by Her Majesty The Queen, whom Launer has supplied with handbags and small leather goods since 1968.

“Her Majesty is quite possibly the most photographed woman in the world and usually always carries a Launer bag with its recognisable signature structured shape.

“In 1992 Her Majesty The Queen visited the Launer factory in honour of a milestone birthday and in support of her long association with the company.”

The brand has also provided bags to the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales.

When Prince Charles becomes King it will be interesting to see what signals he will use at royal events to convey messages.

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