Hats, Hairnets and the Chelsea Flower Show

Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog

A Flashback The world famous Chelsea Flower Show has attracted thousands (millions?) of visitors over the 100 years it has been held. The British Royal Family are loyal supporters and attend every year. This year, Prince Harry entered a garden exhibition in support of his charity Sentebale – it was announced this morning that his “Forget-Me-Not” garden won a silver medal. Queen Elizabeth has attended the show nearly every year and I thought it would be fun to look back at some of her hats.

The photo above shows the Queen without a hat (gasp!) at the flower show in 2010. That’s one of two very peculiar things about the Queen and the Chelsea Flower Show. She wears hats to nearly every other event but for some strange reason, she stopped wearing hats to this event after 1970.

Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth at the Chelsea Flower show in 1952, 1955, 1959, 1960 and 1970

The other peculiar think about the Queen and the Chelsea Flower Show is that In the early 1970s, she began wearing a hair net covered in black bows to this event. She doesn’t wear them to any other event- just this one! Some writers have speculated that she did this to protect her hair from unexpected gusts of wind on her outdoor walk through the exhibition gardens. Whatever the reason, it’s now a tradition to for her to either go bear headed or to wear a hairnet (except in  2006 when she sported a beautiful purple silk kerchief). Last year, Elizabeth replaced the bow hairnet with one covered in black blossoms.

Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth at the Chelsea Flower show in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1977

Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth at the Chelsea Flower show in 1981, 1987 and 1993

Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth at the Chelsea Flower show in 1996, 2006, 2011 and 2012

This is one of the very rare occasions when I would recommend going bare headed (as Queen Elizabeth did this year). I’m just not a fan of queen wearing hairnets in public. What do you think of this interesting millinery choice?

Photos from The Daily Mirror; The Daily Mail;  Friends United; John Downing,  Tim Graham, and Mark Cuthbert via Getty; and WPA Pool via Zimbio 

8 thoughts on “Hats, Hairnets and the Chelsea Flower Show

  1. I think it’s the time of day that she attends, that led to the hairnet wearing. Hats are worn during the day, but not for an evening event. I believe HM usually attends Chelsea in the early evening, so doesn’t deem a hat to be appropriate, nor an evening tiara (!) so started wearing the hideous hairnets as a compromise. Someone must have told her how terrible they look, especially the black net on white hair, so thankfully she went bare headed last year!

  2. The queen’s hats are usually very nice. I don’t think these hairnets make her look as nice as she usually does.

  3. The first hat photo (upper left) has a unique design I’ve never seen before. It has an old-fassioned but royal look. Is it one-of-a-kind? I think I like this much better than the hair nets, which with the addition of the black bow-ties do not look good at all.

    • Yes, that hat from 1952 has a marvelous folded quality to the brim that is unique. I’ve also not seen a hat like this before and like it very much. I thought it was also cute how the second hat (from 1955) seems to be petal flowers on her head. A little cheesy perhaps, but cute to wear to the flower show.

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