Lipstick, mint: Queen's handbag items spilled

The contents of the Queen's ubiquitous handbag have long been the source of mystery and rumour. But a royal biographer has disclosed that, alongside everyday items including a mirror and lipstick, on Sundays there is a
�5 or �10 note for the church collection.

Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Woman Behind the Throne, claims that also among the bag's secrets is a portable hook used to hang it discreetly under tables.

What's in your bag? Contrary to popular belief, the Queen does
sometimes carry a �5 or �10 note in her classic Launer handbag to
donate to the church on Sundays. File Pic/ Getty Images

Bedell Smith said there was "no more familiar symbol" of the Queen than the classic Launer handbag on her left arm at every occasion from informal walkabouts to state dinners. Her knowledge is pieced together from anecdotes of ladies-in-waiting and those who claim to have peeked inside the handbag.

Bedell Smith said the handbag usually contained reading glasses, mint lozenges and a fountain pen, but rarely cash except for the "precisely folded" �5 or �10 note on Sundays.

A dinner guest at the Berkshire home of Jean Wills, one of the Queen's cousins, is said to have been surprised to see the of the monarch spit into a suction cup.

"I watched the Queen open her handbag and remove a white suction cup and discreetly spit into it," the guest is quoted as saying. "The Queen then attached the cup to the underside of the table. The cup had a hook on it, and she attached her handbag to it."

And Bedell Smith wrote: "At the end of a luncheon or a dinner... she has the somewhat outre habit of opening her bag, pulling out a compact and reapplying her lipstick.

The Queen tomorrow marks her accession 60 years ago.

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