Dear Cecil: Why does Queen Elizabeth carry a purse, and what could she possibly have in it? I took an informal poll at work and got these results: 3 people said she carried carfare. 2 people said she carried identification. 5 people said she carried makeup. 1 person said she carried nothing at all; it was like a security blanket. I hope you can help. Jimmy Perez, Santa Barbara, California
Maybe I never told you this, but years ago Elizabeth and I used to double date (she loved Roller Derby). The subject of purses, unfortunately, never came up. Now, of course, she won’t give me the time of day, the snob. No problem, sez I, I’ll just call up the embassy in D.C., the better to save on the transatlantic tolls. You’ve heard about the fabled British sense of humor? It’s a fraud. Total noncooperation. Look, bub, I tell this sniffy lackey, here in America we believe in freedom of information. But still no dice.
Diplomatic channels having proved unavailing, I call up Buckingham Palace (no small achievement in an era when all the phone companies hate each other). The queen continues to stonewall. A press aide tells me (and believe me, how these people can breathe with their noses at that angle I’ll never know) that she carries items “of a personal nature,” but not money. Pressed further, she said you’d find what you’d expect to find in a woman’s purse. This being the 90s, I blanch to think what I’d expect to find in a woman’s purse. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s puppy biscuits for the corgis.
More on the royal bag … Uh, purse
As anyone who reads Majesty magazine knows, the Queen carries a comb, a handkerchief, a small gold compact, and a tube of lipstick in her handbag. However, you were somewhat misled by Buckingham Palace. The Queen does carry money on Sundays — a folded note of unknown denomination which she discreetly places in the collection plate.
Mr. Perez was also partially correct: Her Majesty does use her handbag as a security blanket. She carries it with her throughout the day as she moves from one room of the palace to another. She is rarely photographed without a handbag. All tables and her desk at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences are equipped with special hooks on which the Queen may hang her ubiquitous handbag. Finally, the Queen never uses a shoulderbag or clutchbag as these make shaking hands and accepting flowers awkward.
I could go on to discuss the Queen’s hats, but perhaps that would be a bit much.
— Elizabeth Giangrego, Chicago
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