Catch a glimpse, even a photographic one, of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and you'll likely take in a colorful outfit, complete with hat and handbag.
According to one published report, the Queen owns more than 200 handbags designed by Launer, some of which are custom-made.
Beyond making fashion statements, though, the Queen's handbags evidently serve another function: Sending messages to her staff to keep her affairs in order and functioning smoothly.
MSN reports that if the Queen moves her handbag from one arm to the other, she's sending a message that she wants to move ahead from a conversation or that she's ready to make her exit. And if she places her handbag on a dinner table, that's a signal that she's ready to end an event within the next five minutes.
According to one Palace insider, “The Queen devised this way of letting the staff know what she wants many years ago. And it has worked marvelously well. It’s a very discreet and very clear way of communicating without any awkwardness.”
As for what's contained inside the bag itself, a collection of reports cover a variety of objects. Her Majesty apparently carries along her eyeglasses, a mirror, a favored brand of lipstick, a fountain pen, and, when going to church each Sunday, a hot-off-the-press £5 note to drop in the collection plate.
Other reports indicate that the Queen also carries more fanciful and unique items in her handbags. These include various good luck charms, such as miniature horses and other animals that have been given to her by her children.
In case Her Majesty encounters fashion emergencies, her ladies in waiting carry around needles, thread, and safety pins.