The forthcoming book Fifty Bags That Changed the World recalls the sensation that the Queen's style caused on a visit to Italy in 2000. La Repubblica ran a front-page story entitled "Ode to the Queen's Handbag". "There it is", the article gushed, "that disturbing object, firmly attached to her left forearm. The secret of her regality is in that little royal but oh so ordinary accessory."
Many of the rest of us loyal servants of fashion are no less surgically attached. The "It-bag" tag might have expired, but the appeal of a nice bit of arm candy never will. It's a sort of unswervingly loyal, leathery friend. There's nothing like a new best friend though, which is why at the start of the season, a girl's thoughts turn to a new bag – and unlike the Queen, we want something extraordinary, please.
That said, the Maggie-Thatcher-meets-Her-Majesty look is one of spring's multiple bag trends, alongside bold colours, stripes, natural shades, shoppers, briefcases, satchels, Seventies shoulder bags and micro-bags.
On the most wanted list are: Proenza Schouler's latest 'PS1' satchel in black leather, brown suede and beige linen, Prada's canvas briefcases in bold stripes, Vuitton's two-tone bags, and Celine's ultra-simple leather shoppers. Then there's Jil Sander's luxe version of a plastic bag and Mulberry's lovely Tillie briefcase, which is what the Alexa would look like if it grew up and got a job.
So what to buy? I'm avoiding mini-bags because unlike the Queen, I need to carry more than just lipstick, and oversized shoppers because I'll waste time rummaging. Bright or neon bags such as Miu Miu's shoulder bags will modernise an outfit, and the mid-sized, natural-coloured satchel is a versatile classic.
On the high street, look to Asos for great satchels under £70, including a cobalt one, Cos for a sleek tan shopper and Whistles for a grey suede satchel that evokes the Proenza Shouler 'PS1' but not too closely. Slavish copies of designer bags are not so much ordinary as extraordinarily tacky.