Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth II.Getty

We've all been there. Stuck in a social setting that we can't get out of and praying someone comes to the rescue. If only there was a way to signal you're ready to leave...

Editor's note: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-serving monarch passed away on Sept 8, 2022, aged 96. Now, BHT takes a look back at some of the most popular stories which arose during her 70-year reign. 

As you can imagine, Queen Elizabeth II spent a huge amount of time meeting and greeting dignitaries, politicians, and famous figures all over the world. One can only imagine the amount of time she spent at events where she was expected to give everyone some time.

Well, according to royal historian Hugo Vickers, the Queen had several subtle signs that she was ready to exit a conversation or an event.

The Queen meeting dignitaries

The Queen meeting dignitaries

It's all in the bag 

Her bag, according to Vickers, was used by the Queen to indicate her wishes when navigating official functions.

If the Queen shifted her bag from one hand to the next, it signaled that she was ready to end her current conversation. As well as this, if those in the know saw that the Queen had placed her bag on a table, they would be aware that the Queen was ready to leave an event in the next five minutes. 

Finally, if the Queen started to twist her wedding ring, immediate action was required! The twisting of the ring means she wished to exit a conversation without delay.

Do the rest of the royals have secret hand signals?

As far as we know, the rest of the royals don't use coded hand signals the way the Queen did. Reports, however, suggest that Kate Middleton holds her bag in front of her with two hands, in order to avoid awkward handshakes with guests and fans alike.

One thing is for sure, we'll be keeping an eye on all royal accessories from here on in to see if we can distinguish any clues about their intentions!

* Originally published in April 2019. Updated in June 2023.