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6 Ways Queen Elizabeth II Sends Her Staff Secret Messages

Updated: Jan. 04, 2022

She sure knows how to make a graceful exit.

Queen Elizabeth II stands with The King and Queen of the Belgians, Philippe of Belgium (left) and Queen Mathilde (right) in the Grand Corridor during their audience at Windsor Castle

Switching her bag to the other arm

Skim through photos of Queen Elizabeth, and you’ll notice one common habit: Her handbag is almost always draped over her left arm. Having a preferred purse arm is pretty common, but with Her Majesty, it apparently means something more. If she switches her pocketbook to the other hand during a conversation, she’s probably not tired, but telling her staff that she’d like someone to interrupt and end the conversation, royal historian Hugo Vickers tells People. “It would be done very nicely,” Vickers explains. “Someone would come along and say, ‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.’” Check out these other 11 fascinating facts about Queen Elizabeth.

Dubai, UAE - May 20, 2018: Beautiful Susen women's handbag on table

Placing her handbag on the table

Queen Elizabeth is very attached to her handbag, but monarchs don’t just fling their purses over the backs of their chairs or plop them on the ground like we commoners. Her Majesty reportedly keeps an under-table hook in her bag so she never needs to part with it, even at formal dinner parties. So take note if she ever moves it from the hook to the table—that’s a sign that she wants to wrap the meal up within the next five minutes, according to The Telegraph. But we don’t need any secret signals to reveal the 9 foods Queen Elizabeth would never, ever eat.

bag on the floor during a dancing in a nightclub

Putting her bag on the ground

Things are a bit more personal if the queen shifts her bag to the floor instead of the table. The Telegraph claims that’s her signal that she isn’t having fun with the conversation and is hoping a lady-in-waiting will come to the rescue.

Queen Elizabeth II

Twisting her wedding ring

On the rare chance that you catch Her Majesty without her iconic gloves, keep an eye on what her hands are doing. Royal historian Hugo Vickers tells the Daily Express that twisting her wedding ring isn’t just the queen being fidgety—it’s a sign that she wants a conversation to end. If the staff spot the signal, they’ll swoop in to help her escape.

Queen Elizabeth II greets the Governor General of New Zealand Dame Patsy Reddy, with her husband David Gascoigne, during a private audience at Buckingham Palace

Hitting a secret button

We’ve all had meetings that go just a bit longer than we’d like, but Queen Elizabeth doesn’t have to deal with that nonsense. When she’s hosting an official meeting at Buckingham Palace and is ready for the conversation to end, Her Majesty has the luxury of discreetly hitting a secret buzzer. At the push of a button, she signals her staff to open the doors and let the guests out, according to People.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on the dais in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle in Windsor, England
Matt Dunham/Shutterstock

Choosing her outfits

This one isn’t just for the staff, but eagle-eyed royal watchers have noticed some sneaky messages hidden in Queen Elizabeth’s outfit choices. The monarch is legally required to keep her political opinions to herself, but people have spotted some subtle hints about her views in her outfits. Post-Brexit vote in 2017, people were buzzing about the hat she wore that looked suspiciously similar to the European Union flag. More recently, people speculated that wearing a brooch that Barack Obama had given her was a subtle dig at President Trump when he was in town. Read on for 50 more facts you never knew about the British royal family.