Reader Barbara wrote in wondering why in all the activity surrounding Prince George’s arrival (and his presentation to the public when he left the hospital), there was not a hat in sight! As usual, I’ll do my best to answer.
The European royal ladies have given birth in hospital only since the late 1970s. Before that, royal births occurred at home, far away from public view. The first look at a royal baby and the new mum happened through photos taken in a formal photo session or, in some cases, at the christening. When royal mothers started choosing hospital births, that all changed. I suspect that this glimpse of mother and baby while leaving the hospital became an understood public moment in an otherwise strictly private time. And as we know, hats are optional in royal private life.
For the past 35 years, the British royal mums all left the hospital without hats: Princess Anne with Zara; Princess Diana with Willam and with Harry; The Duchess of York with Beatrice and with Eugenie; The Countess of Wessex with Louise and with James. Same with the European Princesses: Princess Caroline with Charlotte; Princess Marie with Henrik; Princess Mary and Prince Frederick with twins Vincent and Josephine; the Belgian King and Queen with Elisabeth and with Eleonore; the Spanish Royals (here, here and here); and Princess Victoria with Estelle, just to name a few. Even the most formal and traditional of the royal houses, the Imperial house of Japan, go without hats to introduce their babies: Princess Masako with Aiko and Princess Kiko with Hisahito.
In my search through past royal baby introductions, I could find only three instances of hats – well, one kerchief and two hats on the wee ones themselves (admittedly, all a bit of a stretch!)
Princess Anne leaving St. Mary’s hospital with son Peter in November 1977
I hope that answers your question, Barbara! Not good news for us hat lovers, I’m afraid, but it I do think new mums of both the royal and non-royal variety deserve as many breaks as they can get.
Photos from Getty as indicated