If you ever happen to find yourself chatting with Queen Elizabeth II, and she shifts her iconic Launer handbag from one hand to the other, that’s not a coincidence: Instead, it probably means she’s done talking to you. That’s according to royal historian Hugo Vickers, who once told People that the Queen uses her signature Launer handbag to send secret messages to her staff, indicating when she wants to move on from a conversation or leave an engagement. It’s kind of like the royal version of that code word you have with your friend when one of you wants to ditch a party, but it’s a little more discreet than sneaking the word “eggplant” into a casual conversation.
The Telegraph and the Daily Mail rounded up more secrets of the queen’s purse on Friday. Here are nine things we bet you didn’t know about her Launer bag.
1. She apparently carries a small mirror, lipstick, mints, reading glasses, a pen, and, on Sundays, a crisply ironed £5 or £10 note (never more) for the church collection plate.
2. Another royal handbag expert says she also carries good luck charms from her kids (including miniature dogs) and family photos in her bag. (We hope one of those is this one of George and Charlotte, because d’awww.)
3. Her ladies-in-waiting (yep, she actually has those!) are responsible for having extra gloves, tights, and sewing essentials in case of emergency.
4. Forget coded messages—the Launer practically has its own language: Vickers says that shifting her bag from one hand to another signals that she’s done with the conversation, and her staff should come and move you along. “Luckily, they’d let you down easy,” he says. “It would be done very nicely. Someone would come along and say, ‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.'” When the Queen puts her bag on a table during an event, that signals to her ladies-in-waiting that she wants to leave in five minutes. And if it goes on the floor during a conversation? Bad news: It sends a signal to a lady-in-waiting to quickly rescue her.
5. Rumor has it Queen Elizabeth has owned more than 200 Launer handbags over the years. Her Majesty’s loyalty to the brand began in 1968, when designer Sam Launer sent her a bag.
6. The Queen always has a portable hook and suction cup in her bag so she can hang it from the bottom of the table, thereby avoiding the floor (and potential communication mishaps).
7. She typically carries Launer’s classic blackpatent leather Traviata handbag, which clocks in at £1,550 (about $1,900). Her bespoke versions always come with a matching wallet, mirror, and are made with a long handle—the easier to shake hands with, of course.
8. However, they’re never made with zippers—and you won’t see the Queen with a shoulder bag: She likes being able to access what’s inside easily.
9. Although she traditionally carries the black bag, she’s been experimenting with bolder colors recently. (Fingers crossed for neon when it trends again.)