Kate Middleton is known all over the world for her incredible sense of style. The sizeable impact the Princess of Wales has had on the fashion industry has been dubbed “The Kate Effect”, as whatever she appears in typically sells out in minutes.
Kate has continually wowed the crowds with what she chooses to wear to her public appearances.
Whether she is donning a floor-length gold Jenny Packham gown for a James Bond film premiere or arriving in London to hand out a fashion award, it is clear the royal has perfected her public image.
The Princess of Wales is also known to employ a series of clever tactics when appearing in public to ensure she doesn’t suffer any awkward fashion moments, including wearing hairnets to keep her hair as neat as possible. But she has another method as well.
Whenever the Princess appears at an official engagement, she almost always carries a clutch bag with her.
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While it not only completes her look and carries important items, the bag serves another important purpose.
Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, said that Kate “holds her bag in front of her in both hands when shaking hands might be awkward”, she told Good Housekeeping.
Etiquette expert, William Hanson said: “It is protocol that you do not extend your hand to any member of the Royal Family (blood royal or those who have married into the family) unless their hand extends first—hence the reason Kate feels the need to pick a bag that puts both her hands out of commission,” he told the Daily Mail.
However, Kate is not the only royal who uses her clutch bag for a secondary reason as her late mother-in-law also employed a clever tactic.
Chelsea-based handbag designer Anya Hindmarch regularly helped the Princess of Wales with her accessories after she opened her West London store in 1993.
Ms Hindmarch said: “She was a very loyal customer and a lot of fun… she would come and see us with no bodyguards or any fuss,” she told the Telegraph.
The iconic designer continued: “We used to laugh when we designed what she called her ‘cleavage bags,’ little satin clutches which she would cover her cleavage with when she stepped out of cars.”
While Diana was the indisputable queen of fashion, there was also another royal who used her bag for more than one purpose.
The late Queen also came up with an ingenious ploy where she used her bag to communicate with her ladies-in-waiting or other staff.
Queen Elizabeth II used a few simple movements to convey messages. These included if she wanted an event to end, to stop talking to someone, or wanted a member of staff to come and join the conversation.
If Her Late Majesty placed her handbag on the table at dinner, staff were to take it as a cue that she wanted the event to end in the next five minutes. If she placed it on the floor, it signalled that she was not enjoying the conversation and wanted to be rescued by her lady-in-waiting.
Royal historian Hugo Vickers explained the Queen always draped her handbag over her left arm, so when she switched it, it was an obvious sign that she was bored and wanted to move along. He said: “This move is a discreet directive that she would like staff to help end the conversation.”