Hats, Hairnets and the Chelsea Flower Show

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- Queen Elizabeth has attended the show nearly every year and I thought it would be fun to look back at some of her hats.

Embed from Getty Images
At the show in 1947, 1959, 1960 and 1966

Embed from Getty Images
1952 and 1962

There are two peculiar things about the Queen’s millinery at this event. The first is that she stopped wearing hats to it in 1970. Second, In the early 1970s, she began wearing a hair net covered in black bows, something we don’t see her wear for any other occasion. 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 but this fall flat for me- Queen Elizabeth’s other engagements include outdoor components in far gustier places than Central London. If if there was such worry about her hair… why not wear a hat?!

Embed from Getty Images
1972, 1974, 1996, 2011

Embed from Getty Images
1975, 1977, 2012

Update: since 2012, the Queen has visited the flower show with neither a hat nor a hairnet. It remains one of the very few daytime public events she  attends bare headed.

Embed from Getty Images

We’ll likely never know the reason(s) why the Queen replaced hats at the flower show with hairnets (and subsequently, no head covering at all!)  What do you think?

Photos from Getty as indicated

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s