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V&A in talks to display Baroness Thatcher’s famous handbag

The V&A is trying to secure one of Baroness Thatcher’s famous handbags for a new exhibition (Rui Vieira/PA)
The V&A is trying to secure one of Baroness Thatcher’s famous handbags for a new exhibition (Rui Vieira/PA)

Baroness Thatcher’s handbag could go on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in an exhibition on the “ultimate accessory”.

The late prime minister’s handbags were part of her public persona and often dubbed her “secret weapon”.

Baroness Thatcher in Downing Street
A handbag owned by former prime minister Baroness Thatcher is to go on display at the V&A (PA)

The term “handbagging” was used by some of her ministers to describe their abrasive encounters with Britain’s first female prime minister, and she was quoted as saying: “Of course, I am obstinate in defending our liberties and our law. That is why I carry a big handbag.”

The V&A, in London, has announced a new exhibition, Bags!, which will showcase 300 objects used by men and women from the 16th century onwards.

And it is in talks to display one of the ex-premier’s famous handbags.

Lucia Savi, curator at the V&A, said: “They’re so iconic. The Margaret Thatcher bag … would really highlight the symbolic meanings of bags.

“They’re not only functional; they were, for sure for her, functional objects, but the focus becomes symbolic.

“It’s the idea of the double nature of the bag as function and symbol, so that bag would be part of the story.”

Mrs Thatcher property collection sale
A classic navy blue leather handbag by Launer, which belonged to Baroness Thatcher, was auctioned at Christie’s in December 2015 (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Bags! will explore the “style, function, design and craftsmanship” of bags from around the world.

Exhibits will range in size from tiny purses designed to be carried on a finger to trunks containing the contents of a whole wardrobe.

“From rucksacks to despatch boxes, Birkin bags to Louis Vuitton luggage, Bags! will explore the history of the ultimate accessory,” the V&A said.

The museum previously acquired six outfits worn by Baroness Thatcher from the former prime minister’s children – but there was no handbag.

Bags! will open on April 25 2020.

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