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8 Surprising Things Queen Elizabeth Carries in Her Handbag

Margaret Minnicks is an online writer who writes about the royal family.


Queen Elizabeth is rarely seen in public without a handbag on her left arm. People notice her in her bright-colored ensembles featuring her favorite 2 1/4-inch Anello and Davide block heels patent shoes.

She is often seen in photos carrying a handbag on her official engagements, greeting the public, having private audiences, in official royal portraits, and attending Sunday church services.

It is interesting that Queen Elizabeth not only uses her handbag to carry personal items, but she also uses it to send secret signals to members of the staff who know how to respond when they see her doing certain things with her handbag.

  • It is a signal for a dinner to end in the next five minutes if Queen Elizabeth puts her handbag on the table at dinner.
  • If she puts her handbag on the floor, it means she wants to be rescued from someone she is not enjoying a conversation with at dinner.

The Queen of England loves carrying handbags. She is seen in the photo below carrying one in 1933 when she was only seven years old. That was long before she became queen.

Elizabeth carrying a handbag at seven years old in 1933

Elizabeth carrying a handbag at seven years old in 1933

Queen Elizabeth's Handbag Collection

Queen Elizabeth is one of the most recognized figures in the world, and she is almost never seen without her iconic handbag. Even though the handbags look identical, the queen has about 200 of them. They are not cheap. Each one costs up to $2,346.

Her favorite styles are the Royale and the black patent Traviata. The bags have a longer handle so she can hang them on her arm. That way, it is easier to shake hands with those she greets.


What Queen Elizabeth Carries in Her Handbag

Now that we have established that Queen Elizabeth carries a purse, what does she usually carry inside?

Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Woman Behind the Throne, writes that the handbag is a familiar symbol the queen always carries on her left arm on public occasions from informal greetings to state dinners.

Her bag holds no driver's license, passport, car or house keys, bus tokens, or ticket stubs. She doesn’t have a need for those items. So, what's in those handbags the queen carries?

1. A Purse Hook

Queen Elizabeth has been seen taking a purse hook out of her handbag. A former dining companion of the queen told royal biographer Sally Bedell-Smith that the monarch attaches a purse hook underside the table and the bag stays in place until she removes it when she is ready to leave the table.

2. Reading Glasses

Queen Elizabeth was seen taking a pair of reading glasses from her handbag in 1982 to read a speech. She has been seen doing the same thing on many other occasions over the years.

Silhouette is the name of the brand she wears that comes in semitransparent, soft plastic frames.

Things in Queen Elizabeth's handbag

Things in Queen Elizabeth's handbag

3. Fountain Pen

The royal family does not give autographs. However, the queen might need to sign a condolence book or documents during her travels. She takes her own fountain pen with her to have it readily available when she needs it.

4. Mints

A packet of mint lozenges can usually be found inside Queen Elizabeth's handbag. She uses them to keep her breath fresh while greeting people.

5. Lipstick and Mirror

The queen has been spotted on more than one occasion touching up her lipstick in public at the end of a luncheon or dinner. Her lipstick brand appears to be Clarins. She uses a small metal mirror that was a wedding present from Prince Philip when they got married in 1947.

6. Comb

Queen Elizabeth carries a small comb in her handbag even though she probably doesn't use it because she is seen in public wearing a hat.

7. Handkerchief

Even Queen Elizabeth has the sniffles like the rest of us. She keeps a fresh handkerchief in her handbag in case she needs to blow her nose.

8. Pressed Money

Queen Elizabeth doesn't need to carry cash or credit cards. She carries cash in her handbag when she attends a church service where only cash is accepted in the offering. The queen always puts money in the collection plate.

It was once reported that she usually gives a £5 note which is about $7 in United States currency. Sometimes she gives a £10 note which is around $13. That's the highest amount she ever gives.

The money Queen Elizabeth uses is always crisp because her staff literally irons it so there are absolutely no wrinkles. The notes are folded with the queen's face pointing outwards.

Other Items

Other items that the queen might need are carried by her ladies-in-waiting. They travel with spare stockings, extra pairs of gloves, and a moist, lavender-scented cloth in case of heat.

Needles, thread, and safety pins are also carried for emergency repairs.

Royal handbag investigator Phil Dampier claims that the queen’s bag is filled with more personal items. He wrote in his book What's in the Queen's Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets that Queen Elizabeth carries a photo of her son Prince Andrew safely returning home from the Falklands in 1982.

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, carries a clutch. Queen Elizabeth is seen with her iconic handbag.

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, carries a clutch. Queen Elizabeth is seen with her iconic handbag.

Handbag, Purse, or Clutch?

Many women love handbags. It is a versatile accessory used on many different occasions. The handbag that is used depends on the occasion and the outfit a woman wears.

When discussing what Queen Elizabeth carries, it is referred to as a handbag even though she carries it on her arm.

So, what are the difference between a handbag, purse, and clutch?

Handbags: A handbag is large with long straps so that it can be carried on the arm or shoulder. Handbags are so versatile that they can be carried anywhere from the office to parties, sporting events, other outings, and trips. Handbags have more space than a purse or clutch. In fact, some women put their smaller purses inside a handbag when they go to formal events. They leave their handbag in the car with items they don't need to carry to the affair.

Purses: Purses are small in size and can hold only a few necessary items.

Clutches: Clutches are the smallest of the bags. They can be made of many different types of material, including metal. Many women are seen with clutches on the red carpet and at parties. Clutches are ideal when women need to carry only a few items. They are held in the hand or under the arm because they have no straps.

  • Queen Elizabeth: Fun Facts About Her Wardrobe
    You have seen Queen Elizabeth wearing bright outfits with matching hats. You have seen her carrying a handbag when she makes public appearances. However, there are many fun facts about her wardrobe that you probably don't know.


Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on October 15, 2019:

Of course for the opening of Parliament ceremony the ubiquitous handbag is held by the Lady in Waiting.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on October 14, 2019:

A 'Proper Lady's' essentials.

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on February 03, 2019:

Interesting and fun article! Sometimes I even surprise myself with the stuff that I have in my bag. Things that seem useless, like I, would have no need to carry them, why in the world did I put them in there in the first place?

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 03, 2019:

Louise, I think a lot of women are like you. We carry unnecessary things in our handbags. .

It is very common to find mints in most handbags. I don't know anyone who carries handkerchiefs anymore. However, we used to do so.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 03, 2019:

I think mints and hankerchiefs are always very important to carry in a handbag. I've always got these in mine - though I have a lot of other things which I don't really need to carry about in it to! I need a new handbag too, I will go shopping for one soon.