Nothing gets between the Queen and her favorite handbag

By Monique Jessen
May 01, 2020 04:22 PM
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Queen Elizabeth Attends Mad Hatter Tea Party
The Queen
| Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Whether she' meeting with world leaders or posing for official portraits alongside her great-grandchildren, Queen Elizabeth's iconic handbag is always by her side.

“Every time there’s a change of Prime Minister, the bag seems to be there, on the chair between them or on her lap!” Gerald Bodmer, CEO at Launer, the handbag brand favored by the Queen, tells PEOPLE. “She carries it every day – she must love it!”

Over the last five decades, the Queen has worn six different styles from the British luxury brand, but it’s the Traviata that has become her go-to style. Handmade in fine calf leather with a soft goat suede lining, the classic style, retailing for $2,376, is so closely associated with the Queen, it’s become a bestseller for the brand and a constant in her closet.

“She can get her hand under the handle and open the bag,” says Bodmer, adding: “She’s just always had a handle bag, I can’t tell you the reason why!”

Traviata Black Patent Handbag
Credit: Launer

More recently, Bodmer notes that she’s chosen to wear the Turandot, a slightly smaller style, which includes an internal gold frame.

"I think she wants something a little lighter. When you get older, I think you want a lighter bag, but I do still see her with the Traviata," Bodmer says.

Other styles she has worn over the years include the Sofia, the Bellini and the Lisa in cream that was made specifically for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. It proved so popular it caused their website to crash!

QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images

Famous for their distinctive structured designs, a bag from Launer has become somewhat of a cult purchase. Available in a hue of bright colors, although the Queen tends to stick to black (black patent, to be exact!), the bags are also now fully customizable, something that has proved popular on their e-commerce site, which launched in 2009 and is a service that the Queen has always had to her disposal.

Turandot Handbag
Credit: Launer

“We do various changes; pockets and handles and things for her,” the 87-year-old CEO says of the Queen’s bespoke purchases. “She has a slightly longer handle on all of them so she can get her hands through it more easily. That way and she has a bigger pocket at the back too, but it varies. We do always put a coin purse inside for her and there’s a leather-covered mirror in all of our bags.”

Whether or not the Queen carries cash has been a subject of much debate over the years, but Bodmer, who is currently self-isolating with his wife at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, is charmingly discreet when asked for more details.

“Maybe she puts something else in it? I couldn’t possibly say!” he shares.

As to what else might be in the Queen’s bag, he adds: “Probably her spectacle case [also Launer, she has them in several colors] and her lipstick, I don’t know what else!”

Elizabeth In Marrakech
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Serge Lemoine/Getty Images

The royal family’s history with Launer dates back to the 1950s when the Queen Mother purchased her first bag from the brand. Founded in the 1940s by Sam Launer, who fled Czechoslovakia with his wife and two sons during the war, the brand was given a Royal Warrant in 1968 before Bodmer took over in 1981, saving the brand from going into administration.

Queen Jamaica Tour
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Now the company produces approximately 150 bags a year, each one made by one single craftsperson, taking approximately eight hours to hand finish at their all-women factory in Walsall, near Birmingham.

The distinctive "twisted rope" emblem is synonymous with the brand is finished in gold plating. The bags are also set to make their Netflix debut later this year when they appear on screen in the fourth season of The Crown, in which Olivia Coleman continues to play the Queen.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool /Getty Images

Having met his world-famous client several times, including during a 1992 visit to the factory, Bodmer says she never fails to impress.

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“It’s amazing when you meet someone like that, how normal they are,” he says, commenting on how well her recent speech on the coronavirus crisis was received. “I think the world is in a funny place right now and she represents the safety and solidarity that we seek in these challenging times, more than ever and her the speech was just fantastic."