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The real reason the Queen always carried a Launer handbag

The story of her iconic accessory

queen launer
Natalie Salmon
Fashion Digital Editor
19 September 2022
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Much has been written about The Queen and her devotion to the accessory which has become something of an iconic presence in Elizabeth II’s wardrobe. 

In the last ever photograph of the queen, meeting Prime Minister Liz Truss, in the crook of her arm is the unmistakable black boxy shape complete with a laurel wreath gold fastening, she is of course wearing a black Launer bag. “It's so heart-rending that she carried my bag on the last day of her life.” Launer’s CEO Gerald Bodmer tells Hello! Fashion

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The Queen wore Launer to meet the Prime Minister in one of her last ever photographs

The company was founded in 1940 by Sam Launer and taken over in 1981 by Bodmer, a former classical musician turned accessories empresario. At that time the Queen had already granted the company a royal warrant back in 1968. “When I bought the company it was in dire straits and I went to rescue it and slowly built up a connection again with the Queen which had somehow had been lost.”  Before that time people had bought Launer bags as gifts for Elizabeth II, but that didn’t mean that's what she always liked. Bodmer set about to create styles he knew her majesty would be a fan of.  

"After a time I managed to invite her to the factory in Hackney and she came and spent the whole afternoon there." Bodmer explains, "She was just wonderful and very interested. Most ladies are interested in their bags, but she actually was very interested in how we made them. And also, of course, she was very patriotic and liked to deal with British suppliers."

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The Queen in 1974

The Queen, according to Bodmer, was acutely aware of the challenges that the influx of foreign imports was causing to the British manufacturing industry. She understood the importance of being loyal to British brands for that reason, but also, "It's in her nature to promote British business."

During that first encounter Bodmer was struck by her humility, "She had a good sense of humour and was just like the lady next door, no edge on her at all. She spoke to all my employees and had tea with us. She was terrific." That factory visit was the start of a lifelong devotion to the brand, as the Queen got older Bodmer confirms that they adapted the bags specifically for her, "We made bags that she could carry as she grew older and we took the weight out of them for her."

The legend goes that the Queen had hundreds of Launers; however Bodmer confirms the number is far more reasonable, "Probably about 15 or 16… She told me many times 'I don't feel fully dressed without a bag.'"

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