How the Queen Secretly Communicates With Her Staff Using Her Handbag

Her Majesty understands the power of the purse.

Queen Elizabeth is known for wearing colorful hat-and-coat combinations (the brighter the better, so she can be easily seen among crowds), and, of course, for rocking a tiara like nobody's business. But her sartorial signature is, bar none, a Launer handbag. She's never seen in public without one of the iconic bags by her side.

According to UK's The Telegraph, The Queen is said to own a jaw-dropping 200 Launer handbags. The company received a royal warrant in 1968; Her Majesty has had several bags custom-made (thus, not available to the public) over the years. Her favorite styles from Launer's collections are the black patent Royale (fittingly) and the Traviata, with its silver twisted rope logo clasp which, thanks to her love of the bag, has made it the company's best-selling style.

But the Queen's handbag is much more than a fashion statement. Her Majesty uses her bag to send secret messages to her staff to keep things moving along.

If she shifts her handbag from one arm to the other, she is signaling she wants to move on from a conversation or is ready to leave an engagement. If the Queen places her bag on the dinner table, it means she wants the event itself to end in the next five minutes.

"The Queen devised this way of letting the staff know what she wants many years ago," said one Palace insider. "And it has worked marvelously well. It's a very discreet and very clear way of communicating without any awkwardness."

The Queen's handbag even appeared in her official portrait taken by Annie Liebowitz to mark her 90th birthday. In the photograph, she is surrounded by her great-grandchildren with Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall's daughter toddler Mia Tindall holding the instantly recognizable bag.

So, what's in the bag? According to several different reports, the Queen carries her eyeglasses, a fountain pen, a mirror, and her favorite Clarins lipstick (which she has, on occasion, taken out of her handbag after dinner and discreetly reapplied at the table), along with a crisp £5 note to donate to the church collection on Sundays. She has also reportedly carried good luck charms, including miniature dogs and horses given to her by her children.

Her Majesty's ladies in waiting are responsible for carting around more practical items like an extra pair of gloves, needles and thread, and safety pins, in case of a fashion emergency. And for more utterly fascinating facts you probably didn't know, see these 50 Weird But Wonderful Facts That Will Leave You Totally Amazed!

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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