It's a common question: Why does Queen Elizabeth II carry a handbag (instead of having servants follow her around bearing her personal items on velvet pillows)? Is she hiding a corgi in her purse? Lugging around an extra tiara for emergency purposes, perhaps?
Well, we don't have to wonder anymore, because writer Sally Bedell Smith provides the answer in her new book Elizabeth the Queen. And the answer is…
…just what you might expect. Her Majesty carries a pen, glasses, mints, etc. No crown jewels or scandalous letters from secret admirers, sorry.
There is one surprise: the Queen allegedly carries a suction cup so she can attach her handbag to the underside of tables. (Or maybe that's not such a surprise. Something similar is mentioned in the Straight Dope link in the last paragraph of my original post on this topic, which you can read below.)
FIRST POSTED on March 18, 2007:
Why the Queen wears hats
Someone emailed me to ask why Queen Elizabeth II always wears a hat in public. Royal biographer Robert Lacey says her hats are "a sort of crown substitute."
I also received an email today asking whether the Queen wears her clothes more than once, what she does with her old clothes, and (this is the question everyone asks) what's in her handbag?
According to the official British monarchy website, "The Queen wears all her clothes on many different occasions. Subsequently they are carefully stored by her dresser, as they are sometimes requested for exhibitions." (UPDATE: I had a link for this quote, but it expired when the official British monarchy site was updated in 2009.)
As for what's in the Queen's purse, I can't find an official answer, but see this Straight Dope column for a reader's probably-accurate answer.