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What’s In Your Bag, Ma’am

What’s in your bag, Ma’am Other than the chocolate, the plasters and the gin: Secrets of the Queen Mom’s handbag

By Petronella Wyatt.

Printed: 21:15 EST, 1 September 2012 | Up to date: Thirteen:18 EST, 2 September 2012



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For men, a handbag is a factor apart, for ladies ’tis their entire existence, to misquote Byron and to echo the sentiments of Judge Zoe Smith, who told a handbag thief at Studying Crown Court docket final week that stealing a woman’s bag ‘is not just inconvenience, it causes worry as nicely.

Her phone is taken, her playing cards, her cash to get a cab is taken, her keys to the door of her home. Then there is the concern of anyone coming to interrupt into the house’.

Like most ladies, my handbag is bursting like a glutton’s belly – however I did be taught the art of carrying every thing from the two biggest exponents of handbaggery: the Queen Mother and Margaret Thatcher, each buddies of my father, the late Woodrow Wyatt.

Handbag enthusiast: The Queen Mother felt that a girl’s bag was an extension of herself
The Queen Mother dined and lunched with us 4 occasions a yr. On each occasion her outfits different mainly in colour.

For dinner, she wore a protracted chiffon dress that may need been customary from icing and round her neck can be the contents of King Solomon’s mines.

For lunch she wore dresses with pleated skirts, a matching hat and ropes of pearls. But it surely was her bespoke Launer handbags, dyed to match her outfits, that were destined to tantalise and instruct.

– Queen and Prince Philip pictured for the primary time after the Duke’s illness… and it would not look like…

As she wafted by way of our entrance door, her handbag always preceded her. Even when accompanied by a lady-in-waiting, she carried it herself, on her right arm, which was crossed over her magnificent embonpoint.

The handbag had its own chair, which my father placed beside her, in an effort to avoid the necessity of her bending the ramrod Royal back.

When we acquired a papillon pup called Mimi, the canine made a leap for the chair. My father didn’t distinguish himself with his chivalry: ‘It’s not my animal, Ma’am,’ he mentioned, ‘it’s Petronella’s.’

But I have Mimi to thank for the historic moment when the secrets of the Royal handbag had been revealed.

Favourite tipple: The Queen Mother typically carried a flask of gin in her bag, and was apparently fond of Tanqueray

As Mimi tore on the primrose yellow silk clutch bag with its satin handle, the Queen Mother giggled. ‘Perhaps she’s sniffed out the chocolates,’ she said, smiling wickedly. ‘The corgis at all times sniff them out at Sandringham. No less than one hopes it isn’t the gin.’

She dipped her beringed hand into her bag and drew out a linen handkerchief containing 4 Charbonnel et Walker rose-flavoured handmade chocolates.

‘The blood sugar can get somewhat low at my age’ – she was then 85 – ‘but chocolates always do the trick. I haven’t had a dizzy spell yet. Moreover,’ she added mischievously, ‘it’s good to have a treat after an indifferent meal.’

In winter, she continued, she typically asked her equerry to pop in a tiny flask of gin.
‘I don’t approve of heated vehicles. They’re very dangerous ferragamo outlet toscana in your health. Many elderly individuals have caught pneumonia getting out of a heated car on to a freezing road. If one is chilly when travelling, a nip of gin is a way more smart idea.’

Later she confessed: ‘I’m not as good as you think I’m. I’m a very vain girl.’
Certainly, she carried a gold powder compact, set with an emerald, given to her by a maharajah. Her gold lipstick holder had been customary at Cartier to match. There was all the time a diamond brooch in a small box, ‘in case I really feel like exhibiting off a little’.

What astonished me most, nonetheless, was the Queen Mother’s revelation that she at all times carried a miniature first-help kit. May I see it She obliged and confirmed me a easy thing you might buy in Boots.

‘During the conflict, my late husband, the King, insisted I carry bandages and plasters in my bag and that i by no means misplaced the habit.

As a matter of truth, I’ve used it more previously few years, administering to my nice-grandchildren when they get cuts and scrapes, than I did during the Blitz.’

Her handbag prompted the only personal comment I heard her make about her beloved grandson Prince Charles and came simply before he announced his separation from Diana.

‘Charles doesn’t quite understand about Diana and her handbags. He thinks it is simply what the newspapers call vogue, and like all men feels more than two is an extravagance.

‘But a handbag is so far more to a woman, isn’t it It’s an extension of herself. Maybe that’s why it causes friction.’

I used to be a schoolgirl of 15 when I used to be knowledgeable that Margaret Thatcher would be becoming a member of us for a household dinner. She wore a purple silk blouse and matching skirt and her perfectly manicured fingers had been clutching the most important handbag I had ever seen.

Her black Salvatore Ferragamo handbag would fetch £83,110 at auction in 2000 and a black Asprey quantity £25,000 final yr.Indeed, she and the bag appeared to have an virtually symbiotic relationship. As the Iron Lady drank a Scotch earlier than dinner, her free hand by no means ceased to hover above the handle.

When my mother referred to as us into the dining room, Denis had the task of carrying his wife’s bag after which putting it beneath her chair.

I observed that she gripped it hard with her ankles and sometimes glanced down as if to guarantee herself that its bodily presence was not an illusion.

Once my fear had receded, I asked what number of handbags she possessed. ‘Thirty-5, expensive.’
She required many handbags in quite a lot of colours, she advised me, due to the frequency of her engagements. However why so massive ‘A woman’s handbag is her house,’ she replied.

Egged on by three glasses of the blissful Hippocrene, I requested her if she may, for posterity’s sake, divulge the secrets of what was then the world’s most well-known handbag.

To my astonishment out came what appeared to be her smalls. On nearer inspection, they were two pairs of tights. ‘Moving about on a regular basis, your tights can get laddered,’ she defined. ‘Always carry spares.’

She then extracted a bottle of clear nail varnish. ‘If you run by all three, the nail varnish prevents ladders from spreading.’

Next came a sewing equipment. ‘I’m afraid I took that from a lodge,’ she mentioned smiling. ‘But I can’t make speeches with the top button of my blouse lacking.’ Had it been anybody else I would have stated the look she gave was arch.

She then drew out a powder compact, a mascara and two lipsticks. ‘I use a paler shade during the day and a darker shade in the evening. Underneath dim lights, a light shade washes you out.’

Ferragamo Leather Tote Bag Black 11891There have been cotton buds in case her mascara smudged, two canisters of Elnett hairspray (supreme hold) and a tub of Vaseline.

‘What do you do with the Vaseline ’ I asked nervously. ‘Apply it to my eyelids.