Think of Queen Elizabeth II and several images are likely to come to mind: with matching bag, hat and shoes at official functions; waving regally from balconies and carriages or dressed in a white gown and jewels at posh Buckingham Palace banquets.
Smart and always the model of decorum, that’s the queen of England. But a style icon?
Pippa Middleton isn’t the only member of the royal wedding entourage to have made waves in the fashion department.
The 85-year-old queen has sparked her own following of fans eager to own one item she accessorised her sunshine yellow wedding-day ensemble with: her handbag.
Launer London, a classic British luxury handbag-maker, made the boxy white leather bag specifically for her and now everybody wants a piece of her arm candy.
“And it isn’t just older ladies who are snapping up replicas,” a Launer London source says. “Twenty per cent of the sales increase has been caused by women in the 35-to-50 age bracket. The queen may be 85 but she has shown she’s not too old to be It!”
This fresh injection of attention has coincided with an important milestone in the octogenarian’s professional life: she recently became the second-longest reigning monarch in 1 000 years of British history.
On 13 May it was announced the queen, who ascended the throne on 6 February 1952, had reigned for 59 years and 95 days, plus 15 extra leap-year days, totalling 21 645 days.
She overtook King George III who was at the helm for 59 years and 96 days, plus 13 extra leap-year days, equalling 21 644 days. The only monarch the queen has yet to surpass is her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years.
Queen Elizabeth hasn’t always been popular. After Princess Diana’s death she was seen by the British public as cold and heartless, relentlessly sticking to routine and protocol when her subjects craved comfort and a few warm words.
In fact the only time anyone can remember seeing the queen showing a flicker of emotion was when she shed a quick tear at the decommissioning ceremony of the royal yacht Britannia in 1997.
But behind the veneer is a human heart, those in the know say – and the biggest indication of this is the contents of her handbags.
She may never carry cash, credit cards or car keys but she has more in her bags than lipstick and tissues, according to Phil Dampier and Ashley Walton, authors of the book What’s in the Queen’s Handbag and Other Royal Secrets.
She always carries a collection of good luck charms, most of them gifts from her children.
Family photos can also be found in their satiny depths. The queen is also never without mints, chocolate drops for her precious corgis and a couple of crosswords that her servants snip out for her.
Ever-present too is the make-up case her husband, Prince Philip, gave her as a wedding present.
Read more about the Queen's unique style in YOU, 26 May 2011. CLICK HERE to follow us on Twitter.