The Queen was famously particular and consistent about what she liked and what she didn’t. Breakfast was brought to her in a Tupperware container; Her Majesty applied her own make-up; and, come evening, she enjoyed a gin and Dubonnet with ice and a lemon slice. For more than 50 years, British label Anello & Davide supplied her with the low-heel loafers she wore on state visits, royal tours and birthdays, broken in by a “flunky” to ensure they were comfortable. There wasn’t a staff member required to road-test her handbags, however – Her Majesty did that herself.
Rarely seen without a Launer London purse hooked on her arm, the Queen treated her handbags like an appendage, permanently in view whatever the occasion. Even in her final picture – stood by a fireplace dressed in a kilt, cardigan, blouse and her trusty heels – her glossy Launer handbag is tucked neatly beside her. Olivia Colman’s portrayal of Her Majesty in The Crown revealed that it wasn’t just a photo prop: she regularly carried it around Buckingham Palace as she walked the hallways or sat on the sofa to watch TV.
“She once told me that she doesn’t feel dressed without a bag,” Launer’s CEO Gerald Bodmer tells Vogue. “And I completely agree, of course.” The company was founded by Sam Launer in 1940, received a royal warrant in 1968 and Bodmer took over the company in 1981. It was during his tenure that the Queen commissioned Launer bags via her steadfast personal advisor and senior dresser, Angela Kelly – the Royale and Traviata were her go-tos – and she was gifted Launer by her children (likely King Charles III, according to Bodmer).
Before Launer, the Queen and the Queen Mother acquired bags from British shoemaker Rayne, which sold styles made by Launer. (It has been widely reported that the Queen received her first Launer from the Queen Mother in the 1950s, but Bodmer was unable to confirm.)
In 1991, Her Majesty visited the Launer factory to watch her favourite styles being made. Each bag is handmade and takes around eight hours to complete, equating to a considerable price tag (the Traviata is upwards of £2,090).