Queen's 'handbag etiquette' carries secret signals
Royal etiquette is explained in a podcast by a chief royal correspondent, in which signals are given to guards and officials just by the move of a handbag.
In an episode of Newsweek's The Royal Report podcast examining different methods of royal etiquette, Chief Royal Correspondent Jack Royston heard from author and royal commentator Kristen Meinzer about the subtle signals of the late Queen's "handbag code" saying "it's to send signals to her team."
One of the signals Meinzer described is that "supposedly if she's standing around at an event and mingling with people and talking, and she switches her handbag from one arm to the other, she's telling her staff she'd like someone to interrupt and end the conversation."
Another signal to act as a last resort to make a hard exit, according to Meinzer is "If... she moves her bag, not from one arm to the other and not to a table, but if she sets it on the floor—that's it. The conversation's over and a lady-in-waiting or someone else will come to the rescue."
The "handbag etiquette" is one of the many on the royal list, as explained by Royston, with the first point to consider when meeting the Queen is not to initiate a hug: "no physical contact at all unless she offers her hand for you to shake."
Former first lady Michelle Obama breached the royal hugging etiquette when she first visited Buckingham Palace in 2011 at a reception for G20 leaders and their spouses where Obama put her arm around the Queen, fueling headlines across the West accusing her of violating royal protocol.
Surprisingly, the Queen returned the gesture by placing her arm around Obama as well, as according to Royston, the monarch didn't seem to take the strict etiquette protocols too seriously.
"From her point of view, she's so dedicated to service that I don't think she would ever let any kind of royal rule or piece of royal etiquette get in the way of what is a diplomatic charm offensive on behalf of the British government."