You know you’ve hit a certain borderline-unwholesome level of obsession when you read – and yes, re-read – books like the page turner, What’s In The Queen’s Handbag (and Other Royal Secrets)? by Phil Dampier, with the kind of attention most people save for breaking news or their grandkid’s school picture. I mean, who cares? Well, I do, and so do you, or you wouldn’t still be reading this. And I guarantee you that anybody to whom you quote that title will immediately ask, (after they’ve finished mocking you) “Well, what IS in her handbag?”
According to insiders, The Queen totes a lipstick and mirror, mints, reading glasses, and a fountain pen, along with some lucky charms her children have given her over the years, and, yes, some family photos. My favourite? The steel S-hook she uses to hang her handbag off the edge of whatever dinner table she’s gracing. Practical, minimal, and probably all you need, if you’ve got a retinue at your heels to lug the other stuff.
There’s also a “crisply folded” (love that) £5 note to donate to the church collection on Sundays. I’ve seen some criticism around this, along the lines of “Really, that’s the best she can do?” – but, honestly, do you want The Queen to be tossing fistfuls of cash into the plate, like Jay-Z up in the club? No, you do not. That would be showy, and vulgar, and totally not acceptable.
My handbag weighs twenty pounds and self-cleans if you unzip it, in the sense that the stuff in it pops out like the troubles of the world poured out of Pandora’s box. So I’m probably not the best person to be giving advice to a savvy traveller like The Queen about what she ought to have in HER handbag. But that’s not going to stop me.
Full disclosure here – I will never be a queen. Of anything. Anywhere. It would require a cataclysm so monumental that I’d basically have to be the last woman standing. Even so, as noted, I carry a bag, and I’ve got some pretty strong ideas about what The Queen ought to have in hers. I understand she’s busy and maybe just hasn’t had a chance to think this through – thus with her comfort in mind, I’m offering the following suggestions.
What should be in The Queen’s Handbag:
1. A regulation stainless steel referee’s whistle could be a lifesaver. Want to get that sluggish reception line moving along at a snappier clip? One good blow on this will send your message loud and clear, and have ’em on the hop.
2. A rubber hand. Now, I know this takes up room in a handbag – not to mention requiring a extra right glove in every colour – but given that she must shake about 200,000 hands a year, think of the wear and tear she’ll save on her own precious digits by discretely slipping a lifelike rubber hand up her sleeve. Imagine the hilarity that will ensue when she’s feeling whimsical, and opts to walk off and leave it in the grip of an unsuspecting victim – the Lord Mayor or whatever. Everyone will have a good laugh, the Lord Mayor will treasure this amazing memento, and it’ll be all over Twitter in a nanosecond. Everyone loves a rubber hand gag. It’s a classic. Better buy a box of them, in case.
3. A chilled flask of a revivifying tonic.
4. Jar of cocktail olives to go with #3.
5. Three makeup pencils – white, blue, and black. Stay with me on this one, people. How many speeches do you, Average Person, listen to a single year? Maybe five, max? And how long do they last? Taken altogether, about five years. Sounds impossible, but it’s true; in fact, it’s been cited as a proof of the Theory of Relativity. Now consider The Queen: How many speeches does she have to suffer through? Few of them, I might add, featuring her own admirable economy of style. It’s enough to drive a person to #3, or at least to a short nap. So, if one of those useful retainers has a steady hand and some artistic flair, let her gently draw upon Her Majesty’s closed eyelids, with afore-mentioned pencils, a pair of bright blue eyes. The Queen can then shut them and bag a few much-needed zees without anyone being the wiser.
I’m hoping someone shows this list to The Queen, or perhaps just discreetly proffers one or two of these items as gifts. The whistle’s a great place to start. And I’ll be watching Twitter for that rubber hand.