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What Does Kate Carry In Her Handbag?

We are back with a few updates and then an answer to another reader question. These are proving to be great fun, allowing us to cover topics that get lost during the busier times of the year.

First, an update on the Cambridge family. It is possible the Duke, Duchess, and children may still head to Balmoral for a visit. Last weekend we saw HM, Prince Philip, the Wessexes, as well as Zara and Mike Tindall as they attended church at Crathie Kirk. (Photos in this Daily Mail story.)

The first weekend in August Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice, and Lady Louise joined the Queen for Sunday services. (Photos in this Bazaar story.) Below, the church entrance as seen in September 2015.

Emily Andrews of The Sun tweeted yesterday that she thinks the Cambridges will be heading to Balmoral soon.

Should there be photos of the family attending church we will do a post.

Also today, an update on the LK Bennett situation. The US website is up and running again, so both UK/International customers and US/Canadian shoppers can purchase things online. 

A side note, there is a 20% off promotion underway on the US site; use promo code THANKS20 for 20% off full-price merchandise. (I’m not sure about exclusions to the offer.)


Now to another reader question and answer. Today’s question: What does Kate carry inside her handbags, particularly the clutch style we see her use so often?  

This is a great question, one that frequently comes up when I do speaking engagements. When asked what she has in her handbag my answer is often, “Not a lot,” because most are very small in size. Some are almost flat and look like they would not be able to accommodate anything much wider than a phone or lipstick.

Some wonder why Kate would carry anything at all, with aides always nearby who could easily hand her anything she might need. One easy answer: perhaps she has nothing in the bag and uses it merely to give her something to do with her hands. I believe there is an element of this that makes sense.

But I also think Kate carries a few items that she simply wouldn’t want to trouble an aide for: perhaps a comb or collapsible/compact hairbrush and a lipstick (we won’t ever really know because the Duchess would only touch up her hair or lipstick privately); there might be a pen or pencil, as well as a tissue or two. The 2016 Chelsea Flower Show demonstrates why it would make more sense for Kate to have her own tissues. She apparently had the sniffles and it was undoubtedly easier (and more discreet) to be able to grab one from her LK Bennett bag.

Obviously, at some events, there are sunglasses inside. Below, the Duchess at Wimbledon July 10, 2016.

Here is another example, we show Kate in 2014 with the Avona clutch from LK Bennett. I believe this is another time when there wasn’t an assistant or aide accompanying the couple (at least not that we saw), so Kate would have had sunglasses in her bag.

It’s possible there is a small amount of cash. When officially opening the EACH store in Holt last year, the Duchess did some shopping.

She discovered a few treasures for George and Charlotte and also tried on a hat for herself.

While she did not purchase the hat, she did pay cash for the other items. Clearly, Kate knew that for this specific engagement she would need money, but I think it’s possible she carries a small amount on other occasions.

Other than these items and perhaps a phone, iPod, or maybe a family photo, I can’t think of other items. Do share if you have ideas for things you think Kate might carry. NOTE: Diana Marie suggests on Facebook there could also be something security-related, like a tracking device. I think that’s a good likelihood.

Tangentially, I am occasionally asked about stories that Kate carries a clutch-style bag when she doesn’t want to shake hands with people, the idea being that she would use both hands to carry it.  The genesis of those stories (or at least some of them) seems to be this Good Housekeeping piece, quoting etiquette expert Mika Meier: “When the Duchess is at an event, she holds her bag in front of her in both hands when shaking hands might be awkward.” I don’t really buy into the theory, if only because we have a plethora of photos showing the Duchess greeting people with a handshake. Nor do I recall seeing Kate doing what is described in the Good Housekeeping story, holding her bag in front with two hands in situations where she would be shaking hands.

Questions about the Queen’s handbag are also popular.

Those may be twofold: “What is in there?” is often preceded or followed by “Does she really use the bag to send secret signals?” This is from a March 2017 Daily Telegraph story:

Her Majesty’s personal bag is used as much to send secret signals to staff as it is to carry personal items. If the Queen places her handbag on the table at dinner, it signals that she wants the event to end in the next five minutes. If she puts her bag on the floor, it shows she’s not enjoying the conversation and wants to be rescued by her lady-in-waiting.

There are many story variations with that theme. This is from the Today show quoting royal historian Hugo Vickers:

Apparently the Queen typically stands with her purse tucked into the crook of her left arm, but when she casually shifts her pocketbook to her right arm it signals to her handlers that she’s ready to move on. They then swoop in and politely usher her away from the conversation

Additional coverage of the subject may be seen here, and also here.

Her Majesty carries bags by Launer London, a royal warrant holder since 1968.  Below, the Launer Traviata (left) and the Adagio (right).

In this Daily Mail story, the company’s CEO explains that the Queen has her bags customized with longer handles to keep the bag from getting in the way when she is shaking hands.

It’s said HM usually has a mirror, lipstick, reading glasses, mints. More on what might be inside from The Telegraph:

A collection of good luck charms given to her by her children, including miniature dogs, horses and saddles, clutter up the bag, Dampier wrote in What’s In The Queen’s Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets. Family photos are also tucked inside, including one of Prince Andrew on his safe return from the Falklands in 1982.

The book cited in the article, What’s In The Queen’s Handbag: And Other Royal Secrets, was published in 2007 and can still be found online.

Our final note tonight is a reminder about Part Two of the ABC special The Story of the Royals; it airs from 9 – 11 tonight EDT. Thank you to Linda, she let us know on the FB page that is also the time when it airs on the west coast (PDT).

Unfortunately, I don’t know about other ways to watch the program, either here in the US or elsewhere.

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Monday 27th of August 2018

I personally think she predominantly carries a clutch to protect the priceless ring on her left hand. People expect to see that ring whenever she’s on duty but she must feel very protective of it. I know I would. So I think her security team or an assistant suggested carrying a clutch without a handle. That way the public would only expect her to extend her right hand rather than both hands during walk about. There’s no loop, handle or strap for her to hook it over her shoulder with and reach out with her left hand as well. I’ve seen other celebrities reaching with both hands to their fans during movie premiers and the like in order to shake twice as many hands. I would feel very vulnerable doing that if I were wearing one of the most recognized pieces of jewelry in the world.


Monday 27th of August 2018

That's actually a really good point that I had never considered, but makes total sense. If I were wearing that ring, holding onto a clutch constantly would give me a small sense of protection that it would be that much more difficult for the ring to slip or get knocked off. I've always wondered if she wears it at home, or puts it away and only wears her bands for everyday use. I know I sure would since the thought of losing or damaging that ring would just haunt me! In their engagement interview when William says "If she loses it (the ring) she's in big trouble," I was like OH NO PRESSURE. Lol.


Saturday 25th of August 2018

Second the comment above, it is available on Hulu for us in the US!!

You can also watch it on demand on the ABC website if you log in with your cable provider details....or your friend's cable provider details ;)


Friday 24th of August 2018

I'm thinking a tissue and maybe a feminine product but that's it. I'm also guessing that Kate's "real" purse is kept with her assistant and includes a phone and other essentials that we all carry around -- minus the house and car keys. ;-)


Saturday 25th of August 2018

I was thinking the same thing about having two purses! Maybe a mint and a paper with any notes she may need for that event would be in her "public purse" with her assistant having what most of us would consider the essentials.

Christina O.

Friday 24th of August 2018

Since 99.9% of the photos we study of Kate were taken when she was, shall we say, "on the clock" her purse would be there to accessorize her outfit, add glamour and luxe. I agree with the WKW commentators who mentioned anything she would require, for the hour or two duration of her engagement, would be with an assistant, security staff or back in the car. I doubt she would even need a phone - George, Charlotte and Louis are too young to call mom if in need, and anyway emergency matters that came up while Kate was working would go through her security staff.

The Natalie clutch by LK Bennett listed on Kate's "Favorite Brands" on this site measures 6" x 4" just enough room for a folded hankie and pin money, small bank notes neatly folded!

Speaking of pin money, perhaps the Queen has some 20 and 50 notes folded and tucked under her brooch to be dropped into the collection plate at church, given as gifts or tips, or used for an impulse buy leaving her serviceable Launer handbag as a prop used to send all of those coded secret messages!


Friday 24th of August 2018

I am a huge Beatrix Potter fan, and cannot believe I missed the fact that she bought a Tom Kitten figurine in the post about the shop opening!! ?. I have the stuffed plushie to match.

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