10 OCTOBER 2007

She's rarely seen without an elegant handbag on her arm, but the question of what the Queen keeps inside it has long remained a mystery. Now a new book claims to shed light on the contents of the royal matriarch's main accessory. It also gives a fascinating insight into the routines and habits of her everyday life, including what she has for breakfast and the care arrangements for her beloved corgis.

What's In The Queen's Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets reveals that though the 81-year-old monarch doesn't carry cash, keys or a passport - since she doesn't own one - her bag is far from empty. Inside are a collection of good luck charms given to her by her children, including miniature dogs, horses and saddles, plus family snaps. The most treasured of which is a photo of Prince Andrew on his safe return from the Falklands in 1982.

Also inside the tote is a make-up case, given to her by Prince Philip as a wedding gift 60 years ago. It also houses an s-shaped metal meat hook which she places on the edge of the dinner table, from which to suspends her handbag, keeping it off the floor.

Other secrets shared in the book include the canny sign language she uses to communicate with her staff. If she places her handbag on the table at a dinner it signifies she wishes the event to finish in the next five minutes, whereas its presence on the floor indicates she feels the conversation leaves a little to be desired and she wants to be rescued by a lady-in-waiting.

Photo: ©
The new work claims to shed light on the secrets of the royal accessory as well as giving a fascinating insight into details of the monarch's everyday lifePhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
It reveals her favourite breakfast snack - marmite on toast washed down by Earl Grey tea - and the secret sign language she uses to communicate with her staff
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