The Queen’s secret signals explained!

We can all agree that the Queen has impeccable style. Every tailored coat and skirt suit comes with an enviable selection of matching accessories.

But as it turns out, the Queen’s accessories are never just a fashion statement. They also serve a far more important and practical use.

Royal historian Hugo Vickers told People magazine that the monarch uses her handbag to send signals to her staff indicating when she’s ready to end a chat.

If she shifts her bag from one hand to the other, it is a sign that she’s ready to move on from the current conversation.

Meanwhile, if she places her bag on a table, it’s a five-minute warning to her ladies-in-waiting telling them that she’s ready to leave an event.

And if the Queen twists her wedding ring, watch out! It means that she requires an immediate extraction from the conversation.

Trust Her Majesty to have multi-functioning accessories. We are simply in awe...

For official meetings at Buckingham Palace, the Queen also wears a discreet buzzer. This is used to give staff signals to open doors and accompany guests out.

Vickers confirms that staff are very adept at handling the Queen’s requests subtly: “It would be done very nicely. Someone would come along and say, ‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you’.”

The Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite designer has also offered an insight into the Queen’s secret signals.

Queen Elizabeth II And The Duchess Of Cambridge Visit King's College London


Whilst meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace, Alice Temperley admitting that she made a string of embarrassing faux-pas. And it includes one moment where she didn’t realise the secret hand signal she was trying to convey…

She revealed that whilst receiving her MBE, she failed to realise that when the Queen squeezes your hand, it’s time to move on.

“I just stood there and chatted.”

It turns out that the Queen isn’t the only royal to use their handbag to manage social situations. Kate has learnt her own tricks of the trade!

The Duchess of Cambridge reportedly holds her clutch bag in front of her with both hands in order to avoid awkward handshakes.

Editor in Chief

Anna Bailey has been the editor of GoodtoKnow since 2018. Before joining the team she was Features Editor at MSN UK, where she oversaw Family Health and Days Out. Previously, she was Digital Lifestyle Editor for the broadcaster UKTV, and Lifestyle Editor for Anna studied Multi-Media Journalism at Bournemouth University and went on to gain her NCTJ and NCE journalism qualifications. Anna is responsible for driving the direction and editorial strategy of Goodto. A mum and experienced baby product tester, she is passionate about providing safe, trustworthy, and relatable advice for families of all kinds.