For many years, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has been known to carry a black box-shaped handbag by British brand Launer. Stylishly carrying it on her left arm, it’s compact enough to not get in the way when she shakes hands but big enough to hold everything she needs.
The Royal Family’s history with Launer dates back to the 1950s when the Queen Mother purchased her first bag. Known for their sturdy box shapes and handcrafted luxury, the Queen has been carrying them for over five decades with the Traviata style (retailing $2,376) for being her go-to look. It has been reported that Queen Elizabeth owns over 200 of them.
It was also much-loved by the formidable Margaret Thatcher, who in 1979, took the beautiful handbag and placed it firmly on the Cabinet table. What was once a largely practical accessory grew a life of its own, and later became recognized through a cartoon of Thatcher hitting Argentina with her handbag, coining the term, “handbagged.”
Handbagged is a comedy. Audience members will get to see both young and older versions of the Queen and Margaret Thatcher at the same time. It’s an interesting way to illustrate the complexities of how one makes decisions and formulates policy. It will also examine how both leading ladies elicited the effects emanating from their personal handbags as they became a visible symbol of their power.
Fans of the Netflix drama, “The Crown,” will enjoy Handbagged for several reasons. Handbagged examines how characters become who they are. Elizabeth, a naive young Princess who thought she’d have years of freedom before she ascended the throne, and Margaret, a born leader who inspired so much change that she thought it would be easy to just keep on going, molding her country into something her father would be proud of.
One pivotal scene in “The Crown” shows the two women meeting at Buckingham Palace for the first time, featuring two Launer bags. Thatcher is seen holding her Olympia style in black as she arrives, and the Queen’s Bellini style can be seen on the floor by her chair.
For the show, Stageworks properties manager, Laura Price, and costumer Barbara Terry will be making four convincing knock-off handbags. Can you imagine going to H-E-B carrying a knock-off Launer bag?
Handbagged premiers at Stageworks Theatre July 16 - August 1. Get tickets and join us!