How the Queen uses secret signals to help bring conversations to a close

Have you ever spotted Her Majesty doing this?

 Queen Elizabeth II attends a ceremony to mark her official birthday at Windsor Castle on June 13, 2020 in Windsor, England
(Image credit: Photo by Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen reportedly has a few secret signals she uses to indicate to palace aides that she’s ready for a conversation at royal engagements to come to a close. 

It’s been claimed that the Queen uses several secret signals to hint to aides - making it clear when she would like a particular conversation to end. Whilst many people may look to subtly say something to those around them to naturally move a conversation on, for the Queen, it’s likely this could potentially come across as a little too impolite. 

Instead, it seems that the 94-year-old monarch can give this impression to aides purely with her body language. 

Speaking to PEOPLE, royal historian Hugo Vickers reportedly revealed that: “It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag move from one hand to the other”. 

It’s been suggested that when the Queen feels ready to wrap up a conversation or social event, she chooses to switch her handbag from one arm to another, which signals to her aides to step in and move her away.

“It would be done very nicely,” Mr. Vickers went on to add. “Someone would come along and say, ‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.”

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And when it comes to politely signaling, that’s apparently not the only sign the monarch uses. PEOPLE also reported that when the Queen is “truly keen on making her escape”, she will spin her ring - a more dramatic gesture that indicates to her staff that they should move her along quickly. It’s thought that placing her bag on the floor sends the same message.

When taking official meetings at Buckingham Palace, the Queen allegedly also has a discreet buzzer that signals to the staff outside to come and escort the guest out. 

Which other Royal Family members use signals?

It’s believed that the Queen might not be the only family member who uses secret signals. 

“What they all do is try to find a quick joke to leave it on,” Mr. Vickers noted to PEOPLE. “Prince Charles has a quick ‘ha ha’ and that enables him to break the conversation.”

Whilst Prince Philip supposedly swings his hand from left to right when meeting a line of people, to avoid finding himself in particularly lengthy conversations. 

Who would’ve thought it?

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.


Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.


In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com. 


After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!