Thatcher’s handbag, at first a symbol of weakness, had become a thing of unparalleled power. “The men I talked to about Thatcher,” says Streep, “claimed when she reached for the bag, you just never knew what was going to come out. Your heart went into your feet.” At one cabinet meeting the ministers arrived to find her absent but the iconic article sitting on the table. “Why don’t we start,” suggested the environment secretary. “The handbag is here.” The handbag became her leitmotif, marking her out as a prime minister who was part Lady Bracknell and part Winston Churchill. Politicians who fell foul of her were often described in the press as having been “handbagged”—a cross, in effect, between a mugging and an evisceration. In 1988 U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz presented her with the Grand Order of the Handbag—an Asprey bag stuffed with her one-liners.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
A Purse as a Symbol of Power
Amanda Foreman, via Andrew Sullivan, on the first woman to rise to the top of British politics: