The Fashion Secret Shared by Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher Revealed in The Crown

Monique Jessen
·4-min read

Corbis via Getty Queen Elizabeth at Margaret Thatcher's 70th birthday party in 1995

Where Queen Elizabeth goes, her handbag is sure to follow — so it’s no surprise that her favorite style has finally debuted in the new season of The Crown.

In fact, several of the Queen’s favorite handbags from British brand Launer are featured in season four of the Netflix show, which premiered on Sunday, as it was also much-loved by the formidable Margaret Thatcher, who makes her debut in the current season.

“It’s so exciting that they have used some of our bags,” Gerald Bodmer, CEO at Launer, tells PEOPLE exclusively, adding: “We are so proud that the Queen and Margaret Thatcher both chose to carry Launer. We took it in our stride back then but as time has evolved, it has taken on a whole new dimension!”

Des Willie/Netflix Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth carrying her Launer bag in The Crown

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 for $2,376) being her go-to look.

Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool /Getty Images Queen Elizabeth with her Launer handbag

Thatcher became a fan after Bodmer gave the former prime minister one of his bags as a present along with a newspaper cartoon clipping showing her hitting Argentina with her handbag, a reference to the Falklands War. Since that day, she joined the Queen as one of Launer’s most loyal customers.

Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth

One pivotal scene in the show, which sees the two women meeting at Buckingham Palace for the first time (with Gillian Anderson who plays Thatcher perfecting a deep curtsy to Olivia Coleman, in her role as the Queen), features not one but two Launer bags. With Anderson clutching her Olympia style in black as she arrives, the Queen’s Bellini style can be seen on the floor by her chair.

The team was delighted to be contacted by the show’s costume design team last summer. “They came to the showroom and just chose lines that Mrs. Thatcher and the Queen had,” explains Bodmer, 88, adding that they ordered four in total. “The Queen’s was exactly the same [as the original] and Mrs. Thatcher’s was very similar.”

Des Willie/Netflix Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher carrying her Launer bag in The Crown

The brand has come a long way since it was founded in the 1940s by Sam Launer, a refugee who fled Czechoslovakia during the war. Given a royal warrant in 1968, Bodmer saved Launer from going bust in the 1980s. In more recent years, he’s injected some youthful color into the designs, as well as launching a "build your own bag" concept online, which has proved successful.

“With the website we are getting a much younger audience, the internet has changed everything for us,” says Bodmer, who still deals with his customers directly and is beyond grateful for their support, especially with the current coronavirus pandemic. “We have a faithful customer base and we are very thankful for that.”

Launer London Launer's Bellini bag in navy

On whether the Queen’s style advisor, Angela Kelly, has been in touch recently to place any more orders (the Queen has at least six styles to date), Bodmer says with a laugh: “I think the Queen has enough, although I did make her a new bag a couple of years ago that she was more comfortable with (the Turandot, which is lighter in weight) and I sold her some spectacle cases last year.”

Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011

As for that scene in The Crown when the two powerful women (and their bags!) meet for the first time, Bodmer says he’s looking forward to seeing it but he’s forever happy for their custom and the continued support of the Queen. “She’s with it every day, my bag and that’s a nice thing — to be a royal warrant holder."