Queen Elizabeth II: Queen of non-verbal communication

“Never complain, never explain yourself” is one of the Queen’s guiding principles. Instead, she lets colors, photos and handbags do the talking.

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 96th birthday this Thursday (April 21), officially it’s a Saturday in June every year. But this year, the traditional military parade “Trooping the Color” in her honor on June 2 (a Thursday) will coincide with the multi-day celebrations to mark her 70th jubilee herald

Elizabeth Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and 14 other sovereign states known as the Commonwealth Realms, including Australia and Canada. In addition, she is the head of the 54-state Commonwealth of Nations, including the republics of India, South Africa, the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius.

The Queen is also the secular head of the Anglican Church of England and one of the most well-known figures in the world. But that’s not all, Elizabeth II is also the queen of non-verbal communication. Instead of literal language, she skilfully uses colors, symbols or her handbagsto share something.

The famous handbag statements

The monarch carries a handbag at every public appearance. Because the approximately 200 models of the British brand Launer are not only used to store the essentials – according to the royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, they are a mirror, a lipstick, a pen, mints and reading glasses – but also the communication with their employees. And they know:

If the queen wears the royal accessory on her left, angled forearm, everything is fine. If at any point the bag lands on the right side, Elizabeth signals to her staff that she wants to leave. “It would be very disturbing if you were talking to the Queen and noticing the handbag moving from one hand to the other,” commented royal historian Hugo Vickers in 2011 in an interview with “People” magazine. However, the situation would not become embarrassing for the interlocutor, because it all happened very discreetly. “Someone would come by and say, ‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you,'” Vickers continued.

Only the signal from the handbag placed on the floor is even clearer. If the queen takes action, she wants to be rescued from the situation quickly by a lady-in-waiting. However, another bag gesture also creates a spirit of optimism: if the queen puts her handbag on the table at a meal, it is clear that she will be leaving the event shortly.

The talking ring on your finger

The most dramatic gesture is loud vickers however, turning a ring on her finger. This tells the staff that the Queen wants to be taken out of the situation immediately.

The secret courtesy buzzer

When the Queen is conducting official appointments within her own palace walls, she can end conversations with a discreet buzzer without appearing rude. The bell signals the staff outside the room to open the doors and escort the guest out.

The telling photos

The Queen also communicates with photos. For example, the Queen’s annual Christmas speech is also recorded in her royal rooms. An exciting detail is always the selection of photos, which can be seen in the margins. Here, too, she clearly takes a position without addressing anything directly.

In the Instagram post from 2019, with which she wished all followers “Merry Christmas”, there was also a photo of her at a table in the Green Salon of Windsor Castle. Next to her on the table were photos of some family members: her father, King George VI. (1895-1952), and her husband, Prince Philip (1921-2021), who was able to leave the hospital after four days just in time for Christmas, could be seen. Also on the table was a photo of her firstborn, the heir to the throne Prince Charles (73), along with his second wife, Duchess Camilla (74), and her grandson and third in line to the throne, Prince William (39), with his wife, Duchess Kate (40) and their three children, Prince George (8), Princess Charlotte (6) and Prince Louis (3).

On the other hand, there were no pictures of William’s brother, Prince Harry (37), his wife, Duchess Meghan (40), and their son Archie (2). At that time, the small family had decided for the first time to Christmas not to spend at the Queen’s country estate in Sandringham, as is traditional, but in Meghan’s homeland, the USA. A little later, they retired entirely as Senior Royals.

Also not seen in the Queen photo were the other three children of the monarch, including Prince Andrew (62), who resigned from all royal offices in connection with the Epstein scandal.

Playing with the color of clothes

The most recent example of how the British Queen also communicates with the color of her clothing was seen at the end of March at the funeral service in honor of her husband, Prince Philip, who died a year ago. The monarch wore a special shade of green that was a subtle nod to Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh – and she wasn’t the only one. Several of those present, including Princess Anne (71), Duchess Camilla and invited guests such as Queen Letizia of Spain (49), also wore this color.

The dark green hue has been the color of Prince Philip’s official wardrobe. Known as the “Edinburgh green”, it was used on staff uniforms and private vehicles, according to People magazine. A green Land Rover was also used to transport Prince Philip’s coffin at his funeral in April 2021.


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