Queen Elizabeth's purse: What Her Majesty has inside her handbag


The contents of a woman's purse are sacred and personal, so it should come as no surprise that Queen Elizabeth keeps items of significance in hers. For the monarch, who has been in the public arena for decades, her trusty handbags have become an iconic symbol of her royal style – leaving several to speculate what exactly lies inside.

After being made a Dame by Her Majesty, actress Joan Collins was left with the burning question, "I always want to know what she keeps in the handbag." So for Joan, and all the other curious royal fans, we are taking an in-depth look at the royal's famous accessory and why the bag itself is so meaningful.


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Long before the term It-Bag was coined, Prince William's grandmother had found the perfect bag suitable for her informal walkabouts, state engagements and trips to the races. The boxy-shaped bag made by Launer, which is always carried on the royal's left arm, is compact enough to not get in the way when the Queen shakes hands, but is large enough to hold everything she needs.

Back in 1981, Launer was granted a royal warrant for service to Her Majesty. The owner of the company Gerald Bodmer told HELLO!: "All bags made for the Queen are bespoke, made of the softest calf leather. The style she has been using most in recent years is the Traviata, a simple shape with short handles and the famous Launer silver twisted rope logo used as a clasp on the front."


All of the royal's handbags are lined with a very lightweight full-grain suede, in such a way that she can easily find objects inside. As for what those objects could be? Well, only Her Majesty knows for sure, but well-informed opinion suggests that along with her reading glasses, other practical must-haves include a handkerchief, mints and a fountain pen – not to forget a portable hook which is used to hang the bag neatly under tables.

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Phil Dampier, the author of What's In The Queen's Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets, told HELLO! that Her Majesty carries treats for her much-loved corgis and "sometimes a crossword cut from a newspaper by a servant in case she has time to kill" and "a throwback to her days as a girl guide – a penknife."

Phil noted that the Queen likes to have a diary and a small camera, which she uses "to take pictures of visiting presidents and other VIPs." Her Majesty also always makes sure to have a pair of binoculars at horse races.

For royal fans wondering if the Queen carries a cell phone, the answer, Phil said, is no. "She doesn't really use it very often, just when she is driving around Balmoral or Windsor or Sandringham on days off," he shared, adding that anyone wanting to get in touch "knows how to contact her!"

The Queen also keeps a small mirror and a lipstick handy. Though it hasn't been confirmed that the 90-year-old keeps perfume in her bag, if she did it would be a fragrance by Floris, the longest-reigning British beauty company in royal favor, boasting the warrant since 1820.

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Apart from a woman's essentials, it is understood that the Queen keeps a small number of mementos close to her heart when she's out and about. According to Phil, "One of her most personal and prized possessions in the bag is a small metal make-up case," that Prince Philip gave her as a wedding gift nearly 70 years ago.

Her Majesty also keeps good-luck charms, including miniature dogs, horses, saddles and brass horsewhips, which were mostly gifts from her children in addition to a handful of family photographs.

"She would feel lost without [her purse]," Phil said. "It's her most valued possession and a valuable tool. The Queen would never go anywhere without her handbag. The only time she might not have it by her side is when she is in a completely relaxed environment, like up at Balmoral."

The royal's purse has often been described as her "comfort blanket." Not only does it contain personal possessions and practical items, but it plays a key role in helping her manage her public life.

Photo: Getty Images


The handbag is a key mode of communication, used to send out coded signals to staff and guests at lunches and other events. When the Queen places her bag on the table it means she wishes to take her leave in around five minutes, while putting it on the floor tells aides to speak to a guest or move them along the table.

During meet-and-greets, the royal may choose to "drop the bag to one side in a certain manner, telling her staff it's time for her to move on." A lady-in-waiting will then join the conversation, allowing the monarch to slip away without causing any offense. The monarch, who meets thousands of people each year in the course of her work, may also use the solid, square bag to gain personal space when someone gets a little too close.

So just how many handbags does the Queen own? About 300, Phil revealed. The responsibility to look after the coveted accessory lies with the monarch's trusted designer and dresser, Angela Kelly. Let's just say that's a lot of baggage to carry!