What’s all this about The Queen sending secret messages with her handbag?

The Queen's handbag is so much more than just a handbag (Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

The Queen's handbag is so much more than just a handbag (Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire) - Credit: PA

If you are like me a bit of a royalist – and Camilla is my favourite because she seems pretty straightforward – it's all a bit amusing to think Her Majesty puts the bag on the table because she wants the meal to end.

Surely that's not a secret message is it? It's an obvious sign she's about to get her stuff together and head off to ride a horse surely?

I don't know what secret message – beyond 'I've had enough' and 'Right, let's get going' - a handbag can possibly disseminate. Or perhaps I'm missing the point, Anyway I suspect The Queen's handbag, its contents and its function are pretty much the same as any other lady's – personal, private and perfectly normal.

Having said that, we all use props.

In my case I used a notepad to reassure people that even if I can't read my shorthand back – somewhat of a plague to journalists – I am interested in what they are saying and trying to take some sort of note.

I also use a notepad so people know I am a journalist in case I've never met them before. Its not as if I can wear a Mac with a press card shoved in the side of a trilby anymore and you still need something.

Anyway this week my journalistic skills have been deployed rooting around a rather nice house called Kirstead Hall not far from Norwich.

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The house is opening up to tours as part of the Invitation to View scheme and I got a sneak preview.

The owners Dermot and Judy Murphy were most friendly and, as I made notes over a coffee and shortbread, told me they bought the house back in 1978 when no one wanted big old houses that needed huge amounts of work doing to them. Apparently some of the rooms were derelict when they moved in and there wasn't much electricity.

I told them that the best bit of my job is having a legitimate reason to be nosy as we walked round the principal rooms – including a great hall – and I asked questions like where do you have the Christmas tree while wondering how on earth they do keep on top of the dusting.

It was a lovely morning and I have to admit I was most interested as I am a keen student of Elizabethan England and the house dates from that time.

By the time I got back to my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) I'd driven half way across East Anglia and was glad to put down my notepad, a sure sign I was off for a nap.