Anyone who has seen the early 2000s film The Princess Diaries remembers all of the iconic scenes of Anne Hathaway’s character, Mia, undergoing a transformation that took her from an average high school girl to a polished and refined royal of the fictional kingdom of Genovia. Audiences watched the character clumsily struggle through lessons in posture and deportment, grooming, and the acquisition of social graces all in an attempt to align her mannerisms with the expected protocol. Of course, everything in the movie was simply meant to entertain the audience and didn’t have much bearing on real life, but the subject of the film did consequently cue us regular folks into how dedicated one must be to remain royal-looking at all times, even when it would prove difficult.
In the very real United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II has held the spot as the longest-serving monarch in British history (68 years!) and thus, is no novice in the practical methods of keeping composure at all times. She is known to be rather witty and fun in her personal life but remains strict when it comes to matters of diplomacy; As a result, her high standards for herself and her family have led to the development of some rather clever methods for maintaining a dignified appearance in public. Elizabeth’s long reign has given both aides and admirers more than enough time to observe her most important pattern: her handbag signals. Conventionally, the queen always wears one of her favorite Launer of London top handle bags on her left arm to leave her right hand free for waving and shaking hands, so if her bag is seen anywhere else you should definitely take notice!
What a Bore!
If the queen is seen switching her handbag from her left arm/hand to her right, it means that she probably doesn’t share much enthusiasm for the current topic of conversation. This subtle shift is her way of indicating that she is ready to move on to more interesting dialogue and her aides will come swooping in to escort her over to a more exciting engagement. We should all remember this move next time a relative decides it’s time to pull out the Big Book o’ Baby Photos. Again.
Good to Go!
When Elizabeth’s glossy patent leather purse hits the top of the table, it means she’s just about ready to go…in 5 minutes. Surprisingly enough, this actually breaks common etiquette rules as it’s ill-advised to let the dirty bottom of a handbag make contact with the same area where people eat, but when you’re the leader of 3.5 countries and 14 territories, you get to make your own rules. Besides, the bottom of the queen’s handbag is probably squeaky clean thanks to her trusty portable purse hook.
Anyone who is ever considered honorable enough to attend a meal with Elizabeth has probably seen this move and is at least a little jealous that it would be considered improper for them to do the same.
Somebody Save Me!
It’s basically a red alert if her majesty’s bag ever touches the floor. It means that she is extremely uncomfortable and wants to leave ASAP, no matter what is happening. Elizabeth is suddenly feeling unwell? Handbag on the floor. The venue is too loud? Handbag on the floor. The guy sitting next to her forgot to put on deodorant? Handbag on the floor.
I bet this maneuver would come in handy in the unfortunate event that you and your ex are invited to the same party.
I’d Rather Not…
Remember when I said that the queen’s strict adherence to appearing stately is well-known? Well, the younger royals seemed to have gotten the memo.
Dutchess Kate and Dutchess Meghan can frequently be seen doing the “Cambridge Carry.” ﹘ They use both hands to carry a clutch bag in front of themselves as a way to stealthily avoid shaking hands with someone they’d prefer not to make physical contact with. It’s actually an extra ingenious method because it is against protocol for anyone to extend their hand out to a royal without them having offered their hand to you first. This tactic ensures that their perfectly-polished hands are full, thus making them unavailable for warm clammy handshakes. The Duchesses will usually make up for their apparent standoffishness with a polite nod and smile.
Like the queen, they are most often seen sporting small bags from British brands such as Aspinal of London, Mulberry, and Strathberry. It’s said that Dutchess Meghan had to let go of her beloved crossbody bags after marrying into the royal family because it made her appear too open for contact.
Royal or not, I am totally stealing this covert way of avoiding contact for each and every upcoming flu season.