European Monarchs Commemorate D-Day Landings at Normandy

On June 6, 1944, 156,000 British, Canadian and American allied troops joined forces and landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast in France’s Normandy region.  The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and the Battle of Normandy, which lasted through August that year, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe. Today marks the 70th day of this momentous event. To commemorate today’s anniversary of the D-Day landings, many heads of state gathered at the famous beaches to pay their respects to those who lost their lives.

Queen Elizabeth, the only current monarch who served in World War II, wore a bright, citrusy green straw hat with a sharply upturned brim on one side balanced by a large fabric flower on the other. It’s a lot of bright green but she wore it very well. As expected, the Duke of Edinburgh was in military dress.

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Designer: Rachel Trevor Morgan
Previously Worn: This hat is new

Queen Margrethe of Denmark repeated her electric blue hat with pork pie crown, downward curved brim and striped band around the crown. While I love this hat on her, I was secretly hoping she would unveil a new chapeau today.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn:
May 5, 2013; April 27, 2014; October 6, 2013; September 3, 2013; July 4, 2013; June 2, 2013May 6, 2013June 14, 2012September 2, 2012September 20, 2011September 6, 2011; and May 23, 2011

King Herald of Norway wore military uniform (I believe this is the uniform of Admiral of the Royal Norwegian Navy).

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While Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg opted for a suit instead of military dress (as did King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Prince Albert of Monaco and King Philippe of Belgium), Grand Duchess Maria Teresa unveiled a sleek new pillbox trimmed with what looked to be a flat white bow at the back. I loved the lack of frou frou on this hat and thought Maria Teresa looked great in this classic black and white scheme.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this is a new hat

It was also wonderful to see Grand Duke Jean at this commemoration (seated to the left of Queen Elizabeth below). The Grand Duke landed at Normandy in the days after D-Day as a member of a reinforcement until. Luxarazzi has an excellent detail of his role in World War II in this article that I encourage you to read.

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As previously mentioned, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands did not wear military uniform and therefore, was without a hat. Queen Máxima made up for this with a super bright yellow ruched fabric toque hat that coordinated with her jacket.

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My general dislike of bright yellow aside, this ensemble just didn’t work for me (I think it was the boxy, ill fitting Big Bird-esque jacket). The whole look seemed imbalanced and odd… and that was before I realized the toque was not a toque, but another one of Máxima’s millinery doughnuts.

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Designer:  I suspect Fabienne Delvigne
Previously Worn: This hat is new

Queen Mathilde of Belgium wore a pale blue calot hat with wide cuff (you can see the cuff here). I thought she looked exceedingly refined and elegant, especially when seated next to certain other yellow hat disasters.

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Designer: Christian Dior. Suit by Dior as well
Previously Worn: This hat is new

Seldom do we see such a gathering of heads of state at one event- today’s attendance by so many royal families shows how significant D-Day was in the history of each of their nations. It’s one of those occasions where the importance of history eclipses even the marvelous hats.

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Historical significance aside, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the hats worn by European monarchs today. Which one was your favourite?

Photos from Getty as indicated

25 thoughts on “European Monarchs Commemorate D-Day Landings at Normandy

  1. I adore QEII’s outfit and the hat is stunning – who would have thought we would ever see her wear this shade of green, esp at her age now! Mx is a big miss in my book – fail again big time – is she ever going to get a clue no one likes her ring hats?

  2. Other Queens; I like Margrethe’s hat, and her outfit fulfilled the same functions as Queen Elizabeth’s, namely making her easy to pick out in a crowd. Shame it wasn’t new, though. I don’t mind Max’s ensemble in itself (although why a doughnut instead of a proper hat, I’ve no idea…) but is seemed to me more appropriate to a garden party than this occasion. Mathilde looked very elegant indeed, in a very subdued way. The Grand Duchess – yes, elegant too, although I agree with the poster who said hair up would have been better.

  3. I’m quite surprised by all the less positive comments about Queen Elizabeth’s hat and outfit. It seemed to me it was thought through with her usual care and attention. She is on a state visit to France, as the guest of honour, so it is completely inappropriate for her to fade into the background. She was participating in occasions when she was going to be seen by thousands in person, largely from a distance (many of them elderly people with probably not-so-good eyesight), as well as being shown on TV among crowds – it was even more important than usual that she should be able to be identified, and the colour she chose, being both bright and unusual, was perfect for that. The design was bold but simple – hat off the face, large flower, very plain coat, large brooch; all contributing to fulfilling what this outfit needed to do. And anyway, I love it! The colour looks great, the hat is bold in an appropriate way, and it’s altogether a winner in my book!

    • I disagree. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Maxima both missed the mark here. No surprise with Maxima but QE really should have known better.

  4. I think Queen Elizabeth looks wonderful in her green outfit. It seems many disagree. I see this ceremony as an acknowledgement of those who both lost their lives or were maimed, and those who survived to carry the baton of life. I believe it would be shameful if we did not honour the sacrifice of the former group by embracing the freedom they so bravely fought for, and achieved for us. Green is symbolic of “stability and endurance, giving us persistence and the strength to cope with adversity”, so I see it as a nod from the Queen to acknowledge this. There is no way you can convince me she would make a faux pas of etiquette at such an important event. That said, I do love Elizabeth in these bright hues of the colour spectrum. They light her face up, and when she smiles she looks radiant. Her hat is a great size for her, and the colour of the flower mirrors the print of her dress. It reminds me somewhat of a stylized flower of the passion-fruit vine.
    Margrethe need to put that outfit to pasture.
    Mathilde is superbly elegant and understated. Beautiful.
    Max, Max, Max. You keep letting these clown called designers do silly things to you. I love your choice of colours, but the sleeves, the non-hat!
    Repeat after me…No thank you! or Could you please have the sleeves altered…. You’re the purchaser here, you’ve got the upper hand. Or you will buy this outfit at a greatly reduced price when everyone else has said no!
    While I am on a roll, how come Michelle O has all but disappeared from the fashion stage?

  5. Just a thought…..Recently I revisited a post from before about RTM and how she has styled all different flowers for HM’s hats, a carnation and others if I recall. Is this a special type of flower, perhaps paying homage in some way to France or to events of the past. It looks like it has been particularly styled with a mix of colours etc and that red centre. Calling all you budding botanists out there…… Besides that, I quite liked the shape of the hat and I thought this green okay. I thought it was a respectful choice. P.S. Really liked the quip about Big Bird, it so does. Oh dear, not for me this time Max.

  6. Mathilde hands down is the best dressed. Love that color on her. Her hat is the best of all the ladies’ hats. Maria Teresa comes in second with her black pillbox with the bow on back. As far as the colors of the outfits. This was not a mourning event. This is in fact a celebration of the allies successful beach landing even though sadly there was massive loss of soldiers’ lives at the time. In the end their deaths were not in vain. So I think that is why the colorful outfits of the ladies instead of mourning black.

  7. I have followed so many of the articles reporting this event. The photos are amazing. The President of the United States was all over the gathered heads of state. I have seen pictures of him with so many. Do you suppose he is letting Queen Maxima know she left part of her hat in the car……just kidding. All of the attendees look fabulous. But my top favorite of the day is the Duchess of Cornwall.

  8. I guess the word went out for the Queens not to wear mourning colors. Queen Elizabeth followed orders, I guess.
    Queen Matilde has the most refined look by far. I love Queen Elizabeth’s chartreuse color actually but am rather shocked at the size of that flower, and on an RTM hat. RTM is usually much more subtle. From a distance, and particularly with the dress, the hat looks nice, but what a shock!
    While I don’t dislike Máxima’s hat and jacket, I agree that the entire outfit doesn’t work, and I’m tired to Queen Margrethe’s outfit.
    What an odd assortment of hats today.

  9. My faves for the day are Camilla and Mathilde. I, too, thought QE’s color choice odd,but I have heard that it actually blended somewhat in the context of the green grass in the cemetery. Have not seen pics to judge for myself. Sort of like Kate wearing red on the Jubilee barge.

  10. I really liked QEs green hat in the upclose pictures and with the matching coat. It was interesting to see how disproportionate the brim looked in the picture with the dress, fascinating how different a hat can look worn with different clothes.
    I totally agree on the colour yellow, it’s really difficult. Maybe if Q Maxima had matched the yellow jacket with a slim dress instead, to limit the poufy(is that a word?:-)?) silhouette to only one part of the body.
    Q Margrethe’s hat has the perfect proportion but I agree, it would have been a good event to present a new hat on!

    (PS. King Harald spells his name with two a:s…)

  11. I’m really surprised Queen Elizabeth wore such a bright color. Today was like a memorial/remembrance day service, paying tribute to the thousands of men who died on these beaches in the fight to free Europe. I’m not saying the royals should have worn black but I think bright green and yellow were NOT appropriate. Camilla, Kate, Mathilde and Maria Teresa all wore some color but it seemed so much more respectful than what Maxima and Queen Elizabeth wore.

  12. Thanks for bringing us photos of this marvelous event for we the hat-lovers. Queen Mathilde is my favorite among the hatted royals, she looked tres chic in the elegant blue suit, neat hairdo, and simple hat. Blue really is her best color. I’m going to have a go at making this hat for myself. The simplest, less-trimmed hats are often the most stunning ones.

    Queen Margarethe is my 2nd favorite, and she can really carry that electric blue color, and her entire outfit was well-coordinated, however, I was sad that she wore a hat we’ve seen before for such an important historical event.

    Grand Duchess Maria Teresa looked elegant in a classic black and white color scheme, which is very hard to go wrong with. I loved her black and white striped bag. I did think the black and white hat was cute, but I have taken some points off for not having a more elegant updo rather than hair just hanging down.

    Queen Elizabeth is my 4th top choice, as I feel she chose an odd vivid green color, and I can’t see it had any cultural significance for this event. I think it would have been better to go with a more conservative color like blue. It’s a hard green shade to carry off, and I think it could work for other occasions but not this one. I loved the hat shape, but not the color or the huge flower trim on the hat. I loved the huge diamond brooch.

    Queen Maxima is my least favorite of the royal ladies here. Why does she so often venture out with messy hair? That ill-fitting big bird yellow jacket and matching donut thing on her head, which I will not compliment by referring to it as a hat, is hideous, and she wore one of these before too.

  13. I really like Queen Elizabeth s hat but I think her earlier outfit would have been more appropriate. The colourful outfits do jar. However Mathilde s is wonderful love her hat, and there s just the right amount of colour. I like Camillas whole outfit best then Mathilde

  14. The Queen looks good in bright green it’s not a color she wears much but now twice in one week! I just don’t like the flower on her hat. It looks like the petals are claws or one of those plants that eat things.

    My favorite hat and dress combo today is Queen Mathilde by a mile. She is so beautiful and elegant in her suit dress and hat! I always taught my kids “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” so I’m just not going to say anything about Queen Maxima today if you get my drift.

  15. I don’t know why, but when I try to type here, it goes right on topo of the “enter your comment here”!
    it seems I’ve become quite critical of Queen Elizabeth’s attire lately and I’ve surprised myself as I always thought her appearance to be above reproach. When I first saw a picture of her, I thought, hmm, just what about that color is appropriate here? and that “flower” on her hat, appears absolutely frightening as it could claw or devour you. .
    Queen Mathilda seems absolutely perfect. Such simple elegance . I wish Queen Max could take lessons. This is not the place for flamboyance.. Queen Margarethe was appropriate and I love that picture of her and Queen E smiling at each other. Thank you for that.. I thought Duchess Catherine tlooked lovely indeed. Samantha Cameron looked very good and where have I seen her hat before? I know I have. I’m sure someone out there can fill me in. I agree that GDMT looked very smart indeed. I wish that what the Queen E wore just before leaving the UK for France would have looked so much better for today and wished she had switched these outfits. She looked lovely in that navy hat and white coat. I hope this outfit gets buried in the back of her vast closet.

  16. Queen Elizabeth looked really lovely in this shade of green, and I loved her hat and the entire outfit. and don’t forget that Huge diamond she was wearing, holy goly what a huge diamond and all the ones surrounding it are also huge………..Wow!
    Queen Margarethe looked nice, it was great to see her out and enjoying time with Queen E. They both seemed to really enjoy being together.
    Queen Max, yikes, this is a huge no, messy hair, big bird yellow jacket which didn’t fit her, that hat, NO!
    Queen Mathilde looked the very best, so chic and classy and elegant. She looked great and the blue really becomes her.
    Grand Duchess Maria T, very chic also, loved the black and white on her and her hat, now that is perfect on her!

  17. I do like the colour and flower the Queen is wearing. What a nice picture of the royals of different countries together.

  18. What a beautiful day for us hat-fans!!
    Queen E: like the hat, but the flower is too much for me: hope she has read the item on hat modifications :).
    Queen Max: she needs no hat-fans, as she clearly has a presidential fan. I do love yellow, but not the shape of her hat. But still it is very Maxima-flamboyant.
    Queen Mathilda: Very striking difference with queen Maxima. Love her classy hat and outfit. Very distinguished.
    Queen Margarethe: A nice repeat, lovely to see her so smiling.
    GDMT: although I like colour on her, she looks very smart. Very nice Jackie O-ish hat.

    BUT: no mention yet of my winning hat …………..

    And may be a honorable mention to a non royal hat: Samantha Cameron looks wonderful.

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