She’s rarely seen on an official engagement without a small box clutch, often carried in front of her with both hands, and now etiquette experts have revealed that the Duchess of Cambridge’s favoured handbag is down to more than just a fashionable choice. 

Recently, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette Myka Meier told Good Housekeeping that the way the Duchess ‘holds her bag in front of her in both hands when shaking hands might be awkward’.

But now MailOnline’s expert in all things mannerly William Hanson says that the Kate is going about things the wrong way by using her handbag as a shield.

‘The Duchess of Cambridge may well prefer not to shake hands with certain people – but there are other ways to achieve this, as used by The Queen and other members of the royal family, than opting for a clutch over a bag with a strap,’ he told FEMAIL. 

The Duchess of Cambridge always carries a clutch bag which she frequently carries in front of her with both hands and etiquette experts believe it’s to avoid awkward handshakes 

MailOnline’s etiquette expert says there’s no need for Kate to deploy her accessories as a shield against unwanted handshakes 

‘It is protocol that you do not extend your hand to any member of the royal family (blood royal or those who have married in to the family) unless their hand extends first.’

William says that as Kate becomes more comfortable in her royal role, she will realise that there’s no need to deploy her accessories for protection.  

‘With more experience, The Duchess of Cambridge will soon realise that she needn’t be too nice, extend and shake hands with everyone,’ he explained. 

‘A courteous smile at those whom she does not have time to shake hands will suffice.’

The Duchess at the Royal Festival of Remembrance in November 2016 (left) and on a visit to Manchester in October 2016 carrying a trusty black suede clutch bag (right)

Former royal butler Grant Harrold suggests that Kate has adopted an elegant pose that is popular with heads of state  

If Kate wants to avoid too many handshakes, then a polite smile of greeting should be all she needs 

He suggests Kate should look to her father-in-law or her husband’s grandfather for inspiration on how to carry herself. 

‘Male royalty, such as The Duke of Edinburgh, often walk down line-ups with their hands clasped behind their backs, which although technically not correct, they can get away with due to their elevated position,’ he said. ‘Another good way to avoid unwanted hands.’

However, Grant Harrold a former butler to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, believes that Kate has adopted her signature pose as it’s an elegant posture, rather than out of any desire to avoid handshakes. 

‘The Duchess of Cambridge is often seen adapting a pose with her hands clasped in front of her with or without a clutch bag,’ he explained. 

The clutch bag: An impratcial accessory

‘Clutch bags aren’t very practical for parties and gatherings,’ says William Hanson. 

‘Not one does one have to have the right hand free to greet people but someone may pass a glass or plate your way and if one had is already in use for the clutch bag then you’ve got a bit of a problem. 

‘Many from the younger generation see strapped bags as the realm of their parents or grandparents so opt for ‘cooler’ clutches, but there are many funky strapped versions they could use if they saw sense.’

‘This gesture is adapted by confident people and it is popular with presidents, government minsters and heads of state when they are standing in public. 

‘I personally believe she has adopted this with a clutch bag for her official engagements, however she has also been seen with other handbags over the shoulder or arm at informal engagements. 

‘Technically the Duchess is setting a new trend for future generations of Royals and fashion followers alike.

‘Royals do indeed set trends as history shows: The bottom button of the Gentleman’s waistcoat left undone thanks to King Edward VII. 

‘History states he accidentally left it undone but it became the fashionable thing to do, even into the 21st Century. The Late Diana, Princess of Wales also set trends with her wonderful dress-code with beautifully coordinated handbags and shoes.

‘The Queen and The Queen Mother also helped set trends with their fashions and of course wonderful grace and decorum. 

The Queen is known to carry her handbag over her left arm in public to leave her right hand free for greetings 

‘The Queen is often seen carrying her handbags in her left hand as of course did her mother. 

‘We all notice that Royals and their fashions change over the decades and this is not unusual and hopefully will continue as it has done for the last several decades.

‘The Duchess is a wonderful example of what I teach people with regards to posture as not only does she do it with elegance but her flawless posture is something we should all aspire to.’       


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