Just take a moment to imagine the pressure of meeting Her Majesty.
What would do you talk about? How will you know if she is enjoying your chatter about her corgis' unusual names or if she is offended as you persistently enquire as to if she misses Prince Harry?
Let’s be frank, the Queen’s slight (admittedly rare) smile isn’t exactly a great indicator of what’s on her mind...
But we're in luck, as royal historian Hugo Vickers has revealed to People the tell-tale signs to look out for when in conversation with Her Majesty.
And it turns out that her handbag is for more than simply keeping her lipstick and compact mirror safe.
These are the secret signals you need to look out for if you’re ever invited for afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace...
Look out for when she switches her bag from one hand to the other
Rule number one. When the Queen is tired of your conversational attempts, she will pass her dainty handbag from one hand to the other. This is to signal to her staff that she would like help on closing the conversation, pronto.
Royal historian Hugo Vickers told People: “It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag move from one hand to the other.”
But there will be no hard feelings as he adds, “It would be done very nicely. Someone would come along and say, ‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.” Sneaky.
You’re in trouble if she twizzles her wedding ring
If the Queen is planning on making a quick getaway, she will make the dramatic gesture of spinning her ring. This indicates to her staff that she would like to be moved along.
If she places her handbag on the table you have five minutes to convince her to stay
We’ve all been there. There’s nothing worse than wanting to escape a poorly turned out party or awkward after-work drinks with colleagues you don’t wish to spend time with out of hours.
But the Queen needn’t pretend she needs to wash her hair or take an ‘emergency’ call, as she simply places her handbag on the table. This signals to her staff that she would like to leave in the next five minutes. Oh, to be royalty for just one day.
If she places her handbag on the floor you’re in trouble
Now if the Queen requires a rather brisk getaway, you’ll notice her place her handbag on the floor. This signals to staff that she would like to be escorted away immediately. FYI, if this happens you've probably crossed a line.
Now to sit and wait for our invitation to Buckingham Palace...
Best Books About The Royal Family
The man who interviewed Diana so famously takes on Meghan, interviewing those closest to her to uncover the story of her childhood: growing up in The Valley in LA, studying at an all-girls Catholic school and her breakout into acting. The book also delves into her previous marriage and divorce in 2013, her struggles in Hollywood.
The intimate and revealing autobiography of Margaret Rhodes, the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. This is as close to the royal family as you get. The publishers say: ' In the Second World War years she 'lodged' at Buckingham Palace while she worked for MI6. She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her cousin, Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip. Three years later the King and Queen attended her own wedding; Princess Margaret was a bridesmaid. In 1990 she was appointed as a Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen Mother, acting also as her companion, which she describes in touching detail. In the early months of 2002, she spent as much time as possible with her ailing aunt, and was at her bedside when she died at Easter that year. The next morning she went to Queen Elizabeth's bedroom to pray, and in farewell dropped her a final curtsey'
Published in August 2020, this book is expected to be a 'bombshell' that it's been claimed will 'settle scores'. In its description, the publishers claim: 'Finding Freedom goes beyond the headlines to reveal unknown details of Harry and Meghan's life together, dispelling the many rumours and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond. As members of the select group of reporters that cover the British Royal Family and their engagements, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand have witnessed the young couple's lives as few outsiders can.With unique access and written with the participation of those closest to the couple, Finding Freedom is an honest, up-close, and disarming portrait of a confident, influential, and forward-thinking couple who are unafraid to break with tradition, determined to create a new path away from the spotlight, and dedicated to building a humanitarian legacy that will make a profound difference in the world.'
Definitely one for fans of The Crown and its various Princess Margaretsu2026 She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando clam up. She cold-shouldered Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine and Pablo Picasso lusted over her. To her friends Princess Margaret was witty and regal, to her enemies, she was rude and demanding. Ma'am Darling looks at her from many angles, creating a kaleidoscopic biography, and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.
This vivid, eye-opening biography--the product of four years of research and hundreds of interviews with palace officials, former girlfriends, spiritual gurus, and more – claims to be the first authoritative treatment of Charles's life that sheds light on the death of Diana, his marriage to Camilla, and his preparations to take the throne one day.
A well-researched deep-dive into the lives of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten, a couple who witnessed much of the 20th Century's history – including Royal landmarks – at first hand.
The remarkable life of Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret who was also a Maid of Honour at the Queen's Coronation. Anne Glenconner reveals the real events behind The Crown as well as her own life of drama, tragedy and courage, with the wonderful wit and extraordinary resilience which define her.
A photographic journey through Queen Elizabeth II's ten decades of colour-blocked style. From the dusky pinks the Queen wore in girlhood all the way through to #NeonAt90, by way of that hat she wore on the announcement of Brexit, and not forgetting her trusty Launer handbag ever at her side, this must-have collection celebrates the iconic fashion statements of our longest reigning and most vibrant monarch.
The original people's princess, Diana is the subject of many great books – this, by Tina Brown, is by someone who knew her personally and the world she inhabited.The book explores, 'Diana's sexually charged mother, her subtly scheming grandmother, the stepmother she hated but eventually came to understand, and a terrifying trio of in-laws and relations: Fergie, the force of nature whose life was full of its own unacknowledged pathos; Princess Margaret, the fading glamour girl; the implacable Queen Mother and more formidable than all of them, her mother-in-law, the Queen, whose admiration Diana sought till the day she died. Add Camilla Parker-Bowles, the ultimate "other woman" into this combustible mix, and it's no wonder that Diana felt the need to break out of her royal cage into celebrity culture, where she found her own power and used it to devastating effect.'So yes, quite a lot there.
Formerly 'Her True Story' before it was revealed much of the book was based on taped interviews with Diana herself and the book was reissued, this is the often-quoted pretty much definitive story of Princess Diana.
Originally not available in the UK for fear of legal repercussions, this book makes for a page-turner for Royal gossip fans. The description promises: 'Kitty Kelley has gone behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace to raise the curtain on the men and women who make up the British royal family. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Diana...here are the scandals of the last decades: the doomed marriages and the husbands, wives, lovers and children caught in their wake and damaged beyond repair. No one is spared.'
Angela Kelly has worked with The Queen and walked the corridors of the Royal Household for twenty-five years, initially as Her Majesty's Senior Dresser and then latterly as Her Majesty's Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer. As the first person in history to hold this title, she shares a uniquely close working relationship with The Queen, with the monarch's position.
It's another book about Harry and Meghan, but coming from Katie Nicholl - one of the best authorities on the royal family - you know that it's good. This book details their romance right up until the royal wedding.
The latest biography on Meghan Markle to hit our shelves (from November 12), the description says Sean Smith 'pulls no punches as he reveals the remarkable and powerful story of this self-made, intelligent American woman with a strong social conscience who has made such an impact on our lives.'
Royal expert Ingrid Seward presents an incredibly in-depth exploration of the man who has stood by the Queen's side for decades. The perfect accompaniment to his forthcoming centenary celebrations next year.