Reader M.C. submitted the following hat question:
I noticed the royal little girls do not wear hats. Is there a time in their lives when they “come of age” and start wearing hats?
Great question! If you look at the current generation of younger adult royals (age 20-45), you will notice a few trends. In the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway), I was not able to find hats worn by princesses before they turned 18. I believe the first hat publicly worn by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was for her father’s 50th birthday celebrations in April 1996, just before Victoria turned 19 years old.
Princess Victoria (age 18), April 30, 1996 and Princess Martha Louise (age 22) on National Day, May 17, 1994
The Spanish royal ladies wear hats very seldom (we have only seen Princess Letizia wear three hats in her decade of royal life) and the Dutch Royals have no birth princesses in this generation to review. In the Belgian royal family, Princess Astrid’s eldest daughter Princess Maria Laura was just shy of her fifteenth birthday when we first saw her don a hat for her uncle Prince Laurent’s wedding.
Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria (age 14) , April 12, 2003
In Great Britain, the royal little girls start seem to start wearing hats at an earlier age. The first hat I can find Zara Phillips wearing was to Ascot in 1989 when she was eight years old (although we have no way of knowing if the hat was worn for fashion, for Ascot dress code or for sun protection). The next hat I was able to find Zara wearing was at Christmas 1994.
Zara Philips at age 8, June 20, 1989 and age 13, December 25, 1994
The only two birth princesses in the British Royal family in this generation are Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York. These young girls were first seen in hats at the funeral of their aunt Princess Diana in September 1997. From this point, the two York princesses were seen in hats at most royal family events.
9 year old Princess Beatrice and 7 year old Princess Eugenie at their aunt’s funeral, September 6, 1997
Princess Beatrice (age 10) and Princess Eugenie (age 8) at Balmoral with their grandparents, August 31, 1998
Christmas at Sandringham (ages 11 and 9) December 25, 1999
Princess Beatrice (age 13) and Princess Eugenie (age 12) attending the Queens Golden Jubilee, June 4, 2002
Lady Louise Windsor appeared publicly in her first hat last on Christmas Day 2011 when she was eight years old. It appears, however, she has not made a full transition to hat wearing as we have not seen her in a hat since then (she attended most of the Diamond Jubilee festivities last year as well as Trooping the Colour the past two years and the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation last month) I suspect Louise will start wearing hats to Christmas and Trooping the Colour on a regular basis within the few years.
Lady Louise Windsor (age 8) at Sandringham with her parents, December 25, 2011
Princess Elisabeth of Belgium (who will become Crown Princess when her parents accede the throne on July 21) will be twelve years old this fall and we will have to stay tuned for her first hat as well. I also suspect that Princess Amalia of The Netherlands, if she inherits some of her mother’s flair for fashion, will start wearing hats earlier than her contemporaries Princess Leonor of Spain, Princess Ingrid of Norway, and Princess Estelle of Sweden.
One thing is certain, M.C. – there are a few exciting years of hat watching ahead as the youngest generation of European princesses start wearing hats and find their individual millinery style! Thanks so much for submitting your question.
Photos from Raymond Reuter via Corbis; Raymond Reuter via Corbis; Photonews via Getty; Tim Graham via Getty; Tim Graham via Getty; Tim Graham via Getty; Tim Graham via Getty; Tim Graham via Getty; and Tim Graham via Getty