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HOLLENBECK: Pocketbook status quo for British queen and Southern mamma

June 18, 2012

Watching the newscasts of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebration, I'm once again reminded of the similarities between the British monarch and my mother.
Though I could address several factors to illustrate the comparison, the most obvious one is the queen's purse.
Nay. Make that her pocketbook.
Queen Elizabeth always carries a pocketbook. It may be of natural straw, patent leather, black velvet, satin brocade or the finest lace, but the style never changes. It's a double-strapped handbag that opens like a book and closes with a clasp in the center.
Mamma carried the same type. Never once did she branch out to a shoulder bag or a clutch or a drawstring variety. And — like the queen — she had many, many purses through the years, in assorted colors and fabrics. But the style never deviated.
I don't know if Mamma ever noticed the similarity between her bag and the queen's, but anyone else could spot it immediately.
Here's something else I've wondered about as I once again focus on Queen Elizabeth's pocketbook. Why would a queen need to carry a purse in the first place?
She has attendants by the dozen at her disposal, so anything she might desire would be hers for the asking at a moment's notice.
Maybe it's just a female thing and every woman, even a queen, wants her own bag with her own stuff and the control over getting it. Who can say.
I did a little Internet research to see if anyone had ever determined the contents of the queen's bag. According to my findings — which may or may not be accurate — the bag is stuffed with the kinds of things that regular non-royals use every day.
She reportedly carries cash only on Sundays — a five-pound note for the collection bin at church. She also carries reading glasses, mints, a fountain pen (no ball-point pen for a royal), a small mirror and a tube of lipstick for a quick touch-up after dinner. (Even queens do it ... )
I had trouble believing the next item really is there, but according to an account by The Daily Telegraph, the purse includes a suction cup hook that she uses for hanging the bag underneath tables.
A dinner guest is said to have been surprised to see the queen discreetly spitting into the cup. She then is said to have attached the cup to the underside of the table and subsequently secured her handbag to it.
The research team on this concluded that the basic reason that Her Highness carries this hook around is so her personal property won't be besmirched with the indignity of having it touch the floor.
That's plausible. No Royal would want to encounter dirt from a commoner.
But back to the basic style of the royal bag. You'd think someone with unlimited resources might want to branch out into something a little different once in a while. Or to put it more frankly, something more stylish because any way you slice it, that pocketbook is just plain tacky.
Many times I tried to convince my mother to try a different style, but to no avail. Lillie Parnell would look at purse after purse after purse, then always settle on another pocketbook.
While the color, texture and price varied, the style never was altered, not even once, in her entire life.
And, considering the queen's age, I'd say that Her Majesty apparently will carry a pocketbook until the end of time.
But when you think about all of this, it's not so hard to understand. Southern matriarchs and British queens aren't so very different.
Both must have the last word, both dispense guilt with ease and both expect everyone else to do as they say.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.
lyndahol@yahoo.com

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