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The Hertfordshire Handbag Designer Who Wowed Meghan Markle


Hertfordshire-based luxury handbag business Charlotte Elizabeth was born out of adversity and royal interest, designer and founder Charlotte Jones tells Natalie Li

When Meghan Markle’s personal assistant contacted Charlotte Jones on Instagram in 2018, it marked a pivotal moment in the young designer’s life. All eyes were on the future princess, Meghan ‘fever’ was at its height and 23-year-old Charlotte questioned the authenticity of the message. It couldn’t be real… But it was.
“Meghan Markle’s PA left a number and asked me to call her, but I thought ‘is this a joke.’ I looked at my emails and I saw this woman’s name, so I Googled it,” she says. “I rang the PA, and she said that Meghan wanted a chestnut Bloomsbury bag for Thursday afternoon to be delivered to Kensington Palace. This was Wednesday.
“I calmly explained that I was out of stock, and I needed to get it specially made so I called my factory and said: ‘we’ve got Meghan Markle on the phone, and she wants this bag’. The guys at the factory started laughing. They couldn’t believe it. They turned it around in 24 hours, they normally take six weeks, but we knew this would be a great moment for both of us.

Charlotte Jones

“The next day my dad collected the bag from Buckinghamshire and didn’t stop for breath,” laughs 28-year-old Charlotte as she recalls the pinch-me moment. “My sister drove me to Kensington Palace, and I walked up to the gates. There were scary police officers with rifles and guns. I simply said: ‘Hi I’m Charlotte, I’m dropping something off for Meghan.’ They replied: ‘Oh yes, the handbag girl, come on in.’ The Kensington Palace team were lovely, and they kept saying ‘are you happy for her to wear this in public?’. They told me that Meghan loved my story.”
Charlotte switched on Sky News the following day to see Meghan Markle stepping off a plane in Northern Ireland with the Bloomsbury bag on full display. It made global headlines – suddenly everyone wanted to know who Charlotte Elizabeth was. She was immediately floored with orders. “Meghan changed our lives. If this hadn’t happened, I don’t think I would still be doing this job. I have been able to achieve a lot thanks to her,” she smiles.
Today, Charlotte, along with her two sisters Amy, 30 and Emma, 31, work full-time on the business, selling high-quality, elegant leather handbags to 64 countries across the globe.
As we chat the 28-year-old entrepreneur, who grew up in St Albans, is buzzing after the arrival of a batch of handbags from their manufacturer in Spain – a year in the making.
“I’m sitting in my kitchen surrounded by boxes of handbags. This production should have been in my hands last year, but Covid and Brexit caused delays. It’s the best feeling to see them!”


After undergoing heart surgery and leaving school in Bushey earlier as a result, Charlotte dreamt up Charlotte Elizabeth in her bedroom while in recovery. After years of working on her business plan and creating a website, Charlotte launched her debut handbag ‘Bloomsbury’ in 2016 with the support of The Prince’s Trust, key mentorship, and a financial loan. The brand is partially named after Charlotte’s maternal grandmother, who is a huge inspiration behind her business.
“While recovering from my first heart surgery I had this vision and a rush of excitement. I could see the future. I even predicted that a princess would wear it! It was like I knew it was my destiny. I know it sounds crazy saying that,” she grins.
“I always knew I wanted to do my own thing. I had tough days and was bullied at school. “When you go through any adversity it does something to you – there is great light.
“My grandmother was a huge inspiration. I used to love playing in her dress up boxes. She had the most incredible style, grounding, wit, humour, and compassion like I have never known – a truly exceptional woman. We are so close, and she loves the bags and has been so supportive.”
Charlotte begins her designs in digital and produces paper prototypes. The curvature of vintage cars governs the shape of her timeless creations. “Old cars are curvature-led and when you look at the leatherwork inside it’s impressive,” she adds. “I have spent a lot of time visiting car shows and museums. The Bloomsbury is loosely based on the back of a Fiat 500 – it was my first car and I love the shape.”
Nature also plays a huge influence in the luxury designs, reflected in the forest green and brown colour schemes. A keen walker, Charlotte treks up to 10 miles every day – a way to meet people, stay mindful, generate business, and draw inspiration for her latest collection.
Health is wealth to Charlotte after she developed PoTS (postural tachycardia syndrome), chronic fatigue/ME and experienced PTSD from the trauma of surgery. “Lockdown proved to be the best thing for me; I was able to recover physically and mentally. I’ve really healed and got into nature, yoga, walks and healthy food. I feel so strong now. There was a time when I couldn’t type or had to work in half hour bursts. My heart has been cleared and I have been medically cured so I can live my life. I am so grateful for every single day.”


Charlotte’s determination is stronger than ever and her considered connection with community and customers is a winning formula. Quality, longevity and taking things slowly is her long-term vision for the business. And it seems with more recent interest from a few members of the Royal family, the future is looking promising.
“You can’t lead with profit as your number one,” adds Charlotte, “potential investors promised to turn Charlotte Elizabeth into a £5million business, but I wanted to stick to the long game, so we’ve gone against the grain.
“During the pandemic I revisited my original values and mission: to develop a home-grown business. We will follow the slow approach, which goes against this culture of fast fashion. I hope people see something different and unique.
“There’s a lot to achieve,” she finishes with a flourish. “We only sell on our website, but we hope to be in stores soon. I believe that with me and my girlies [sisters] at the helm, and by staying true to my values, that we’ll continue to grow.”

Charlotte Elizabeth is offering a 15% discount with the code ‘AbsolutelyHerts’ until 23 December and is offering in-person home deliveries. See more at

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Picture of Mark Kebble

Mark Kebble

Mark's career in journalism started in 2001 when he landed a role on a small lifestyle magazine in Angel, North London. Soon enough, the magazine was purchased by a larger organisation and Mark found himself promoted to editor at the tender age of 23. He later became group editor, working on magazines for Angel, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. He was also involved in a launch in Hadley Wood and a major new group website, later becoming Group Hub Editor. In 2021, Mark joined Zest Media Group and oversaw the launch of many Absolutely titles across the UK. To date, Mark has launched in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex, Essex, Yorkshire and Cheshire. When he does have some free time, Mark is also the Chairman of an amateur football club in Surrey and is also a fully qualified FA football coach.
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