British Royal Wedding Four Years On: British Royal Family

A wedding For those of us royal hat fans, a royal wedding is a millinery extravaganza and no royal family does hats at big events like the British royal family. After looking at hats worn by the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s nuptials four years ago, we turn our attention for the rest of the day to those worn by the British royals. First up, the hats worn by members of the Queen’s immediate family.

In 2011, the Countess of Wessex had started wearing Jane Taylor’s designs and that’s where she turned for a bespoke piece to wear with her Bruce Oldfield suit. Taylor created a beige pink straw cocktail hat which was liberally trimmed with silk roses and three large vertical feathers in the same shade. The hat heralded a new era of hat styls for Sophie and was the first of numerous beret-based cocktail hats that she appears to still favour today. While the visible headband was a little awkward, the hat looked great on Sophie.

Princess Anne splurged for a new hat in royal purple. The flat, curved base, which was edged in slim white ribbon and came to sharp points on both sides of the piece, was topped by a large flat silk rose and a swath of white net. The randomness of the hat still puzzles me- the shape is a little odd and the trim looks like it was plonked on top with little thought. The shape of this piece may work well with Anne’s antiquated hairstyle but for me, this was not a brilliant hat.

Zara Phillips topped her metallic coat with a show-stopping Philip Treacy hat. Made of black and silver straw, the large picture hat featured a sharply upturned ‘slice’ brim. The underside of the brim was trimmed with a giant multi-looped bow. It was a dramatic hat but really- would we have expected anything less from Zara?

Autumn Phillips topped her grey and purple printed coat with a cocktail hat of fluted grey straw. Tucked inside the smooth folds of the hat were grey silk flowers and slim feathers. The shape is pretty enough but I did not like the placement, way out on the side of Autunn’s head.

As for the York Princesses…. you already know about THAT hat.

For me, this hat was a complete disappointment and error in judgement. I couldn’t stand it then and I can’t stand it now. I despise the sheer ridiculousness of it. I loathe the way it upstaged Princess Beatrice’s gorgeous Valentino coat. I detest the way it monopolized attention at an event where Beatrice was not the star. I abhorred the way it ruined all shots of the Queen inside the Abbey (Bea was seated behind her granny) and I continue to curse how the press STILL refers to it as a fascinator (see the visible base? That clearly makes it a cocktail hat!). Most of all, I deeply resented how it this single piece created the perception that all royal hats were silly.

UPDATE: Several insightful commenters have reminded how Princess Beatrice turned this lemon into much lemonade, auctioning the hat for charity. It was a very classy move on her part and I admire her for it. And, as much as I didn’t like this piece worn to this wedding, it did get the entire world talking about royal hats. I just wish she had worn it to Ladies’ Day at Ascot instead.

Lucky for Princess Eugenie, Beatrice’s infamous hat drew attention away from her chapeau. Also a Philip Treacy design, her vertical cocktail hat was a bespoke creation to go with her Vivienne Westwood suit. Neither, I’m afraid, were a success. Eugenie’s hat, a crescent shaped electric blue boat worn smack on the top of her head, was trimmed with a bouquet of dark purple flowers and a large spray of pale grey feathers. I appreciate that the colours tied in with her suit but the shape of this piece was both unattractive and unflattering. I remember wishing it would just sail away…

In this group of hats, I see one as beautiful, one as bold, and several as bizarre. What did you think of the hats worn by Prince William’s royal aunts and cousins at his wedding?
Photos from Getty as indicated

51 thoughts on “British Royal Wedding Four Years On: British Royal Family

  1. The winner here for me is Zara. The Countess of Wessex looked great but it was her suit that really shone. I suppose the hat was a good match because it didn’t compete.

  2. Last year in Abu Dhabi I spotted these dining chairs in the window of a store selling gaudy gilded furniture. The motif was instantly recognizable!

  3. This is perhaps the most interesting selection of hats to come into a single post that you’ve ever done, Hat Queen. Note, I said interesting – as in discussable and arousing comment, which on a hat blog seems to me to be a good day! There are several unusual and different hats in this selection, so lots to say!

    Sophie’s hat itself is great in shape, although I feel the colour of the whole outfit is too bland to make it entirely satisfying. Obviously the wider visible part of the headband over the head is intended to be part of the design, since it would be perfectly possible to disguise the securing mechanism as it usually done. So the milliner intended it to make it a balancing feature of the overall look, it wasn’t an oversight. To me, it is interesting but not successful, and the fact that it hasn’t become a regular feature of such hats makes me think that the verdict wasn’t very positive!

    Princess Anne; I loved the colour scheme of her outfit, and the fact that we saw her in something new and really quite exciting compared with her usual wardrobe! The shape and placement of the hat is just bizarre, though. It looks as though Anne put it on intending to centre it, but it slipped a little. It might have looked better more to one side, perhaps? Not sure about that! The flower trim definitely looks squashed.

    I really like Autumn Phillips’ whole outfit, including the hat, but I agree, it would have been better placed more centrally in her case.

    Zara – this is one of Zara’s best hats, I think. Often her outfits can look uncoordinated, which spoils them, but this look is good (even though I don’t like the shiny mackintosh fabric of the coat very much).

    Eugenie – again I love the colour scheme, and the exuberance is to be applauded, but the whole outfit didn’t do her justice. And a strange hat. Looking at it, with the shape and the trim where it is, there really isn’t any way you can wear it except dead straight from front to back – any sort of angle would make it appear even weirder. And actually, that is a very difficult angle to pull off.

    Beatrice – I agree – an Ascot hat rather than a wedding hat. I don’t think she or Philip Treacy realised how much comment it would engender. Both of them, by the nature of the milieu in which they move (hat maker, frequent hat wearer at hatty events), see hats all the time, and see huge variety among them. I’m not saying that they were entirely naive, in that this hat is clearly going to be a talking piece in any circumstances, but I really think they didn’t realise quite what an impact it would have on a public who usually don’t get very much exposure to hats. And I do think Beatrice dealt with the fall-out well. It must have been difficult not to take the negative comments personally for a girl of Beatrice’s age. In a way, it’s a shame, as she has become a “safer” hat wearer, I think, and I always like to have some more adventurous hat wearers in the mix!

  4. During the telecast of the wedding I remember seeing Beatrice and Eugenie travelling to the church in their car. They were having to lean forward for the entire journey, with their backs bent over and their necks craned at rather odd angles to look out and wave to the crowds. It looked so weird and uncomfortable and I couldn’t really work out why…..until they alighted and of course their hats were so monumentally tall. Oh what one has to go through!!! Fun coverage, thanks.

  5. Did I read somewhere–or is this an original thought–that the Princess Bea looked like a Dr. Seuss character? And why, oh why didn’t someone tell her that she had mistaken a large Sharpie marker for her eyeliner? Did she apply it in a darkened closet without a mirror?

    My last question is this: Who is the absolutely stunning woman in navy talking to Autumn Phillips? She gets my vote, whoever she is!

  6. Anne and Eugenie were my worst dressed. Beatrice is my Best dressed except for that ridiculous hat. Sophie, and Zara were also favorites but Lady Gabriella Windsor and Lady Sarah Chatto were the epitome of simple elegance IMO. Gabriella wore a Minty-greenish Catherine Walker coat dress and aTeal Phillip Traecy hat with her hair in a french twist. I even liked her classic snow white gloves.

  7. A lot of wacko hats there that day! I am usually saying I wish Zara Phillips would wear larger hats then what we tend to see her in now to help with the over all silhouette proportions, but this one I have to say, was really too big and just didn’t fit with the dress coat at all. Autumn’s was just horrid in my opinion. I thought Sophie looked nice; I just didn’t like the ‘fatty’ headband the hat had and I might have liked to have seen those feathers a bit shorter on it.

  8. Also weird that Sophie’s headband was straw on one side and wire on the other
    Embed from Getty Images

    • I agree with what Scout says: April 29, 2015 at 2:54 pm. it was not bad enough that her headbands were visible, but one was wire and thin and the other thick and fabric covered!

  9. Zara’s hat was my clear favorite in this group. Very stylish and very much suited to her personality. I thought it worked brilliantly with her coat. My one quibble is the size; I’m a short person and I hate getting stuck behind a tall person or someone wearing a very tall hat in church. But since most of the royal relatives seated behind her were relatively tall, perhaps that wasn’t a problem.

    The headband on Sophie’s hat spoiled it for me, but it did flatter her suit.

    I’ve always wondered if Princess Anne put her hat on crooked. I think it would have looked 1000 percent better if she had rotated it slightly so that the tip of the tear drop was coming over the right side of her forehead.

    Didn’t care for Autumn’s hat, but wasn’t offended by it, either.

    The York princesses were a disaster. I agree that Beatrice’s coat was beautiful, but that awful hat upstaged not only the queen but also the bride and groom. Eugenie’s whole outfit was a disaster. The hat was just ugly, ugly, ugly, and her suit was a terrible design for her figure and very badly fitted. Prince Andrew should have gotten his money back from both Vivienne Westwood and Philip Tracey.

  10. You forgot the Spencer Family

    Earl and Countess Spencer

    Embed from Getty Images

    Embed from Getty Images

    Embed from Getty Images

    The Spencer Ladies

    Embed from Getty Images

    Will’s other Spencer cousins. Laura Fellowes is in the turquoise hat.

    Embed from Getty Images

  11. Sophie wins the prize in this little grouping….not even a contest really.
    For more than a couple of the family members, this post could be titled “When good hats go bad”…or perhaps, “Bad concepts with even worse fabrications.”
    MrFitzroy still feels strongly that Vice Admiral Laurence must have sat on The Princess Royal’s hat on the ride to the Abbey.
    The little glimpse of The Duchess of Kent’s chapeau makes MrFitzroy anxious for the next post, as it looks charming in a retro way, and has zero recollection of it amidst the many ‘standouts’ that remain burned into one’s brain!

  12. Your dialogue on Princess Beatrice’s hat is brilliant! I appreciate how you said it upstaged her gorgeous dress which noone seems to notice. I really can’t add anymore to what you already said.

    The rest of these hats….well…I do like Zara’s hat because she just goes for it, but that may be the only Philip Treacy hat I liked from the wedding.

  13. Of all the royals pictured, Zara’s hat was really striking on her. Lady Frederick Windsor who you are going to feature when you do the extended family post was the best dressed, and had the most beautiful hat of all these mentioned in this post. Won’t even comment on Beatrice and Eugenie’s “hats” other than what in the world were they thinking and did no family member have the moxie to speak up before the wedding about their headgear? Maybe they didn’t know?

    • Well said, Penelope. I often wonder if the York girls have no one to advise them on their fashion choices. They could look so much better than they usually do. Perhaps Mrs. Middleton gives classes?

      • It was widely understood that a stylist was brought in for the York princesses following this event. Based on the lovely hats they have worn over the past two years, this seems to make sense.

        I always thought it was rather telling that at Zara Phillips’ wedding just 3 months later, both Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie wore hats made by Angela Kelly.

  14. Sophie’s hat was fine, but I wanna say the base actually continue to make that thick headband on the one side (they look to be of the same material); I also dislike when she wears this color because it just blends in with her hair color and complexion. Anne had a nice color scheme going, but I still don’t understand the hat. Zara looked beyond fantastic, and I always think I’m in the minority because I find nothing wrong with Autumn; I absolutely love everything she wore that day. I will agree and say Beatrice took it a little far with this headpiece at this wedding; I think she would’ve received praise for it at Ascot. Eugenie’s outfit looked quite messy, and while I liked the idea of her hat, I think it would’ve been more successful had everything (the base, trimming, and plumage) been a couple sizes smaller and not sitting directly in the middle of her forehead.

  15. Dear me, what an array! I guess Sophie’s hat is the best although it looks like a giant talon is attacking her. Anne, the Yorks, and Autumn as just random and upsetting. I agree that Lady Frederick Windsor looks the most chic of the lot. And no, Zara, you should not wear black to a wedding.

  16. Was not impressed by any. Sophie made a good start but the headband ruined it. Autumn ‘s coat collar really upset everything. Oh well Ann, it was expected. Lady Windsor was wonderful and it has been acknowledged over time.
    The Yorks made history that day. Felt embarrassed for them. Bea’s coat was wonderful in its own right.

  17. Sophie- great hat. Just wish the headband was gone. Love her suit but the matching purse was OTT.
    Anne- oy vey. It looks like the hat she was going to wear got run over by a bus but she wore it anyway.
    Zara- Fabulous!
    Autumn- I like the hat but the coat’s the wrong cut for her (I think she had a baby right before this so I want to be sympathetic). Color is pretty.
    Bea- obviously the wrong hat to wear to your more famous cousin’s wedding but I LOVED that she had the guts to wear it. Such bad hair and makeup styling and youre right it was totally the wrong hat to wear with her GORGEOUS coat. Great that she turned around all the bad press and made a ton of $ for charity. I think she put royal hats on the map with this one!
    Eugnie- disaster. She usually looks great in Westwood but the fabric choices were all wrong. The hat does nothing for her and makes the whole outfit look more like a costume. Such a shame because she’s such a pretty girl.

    • Your comment made me laugh so hard I started crying. I love what you said about Princess Anne’s hat. Too true! I also agree about everything else. I just think everyone is being too tough on Princess Beatrice. I remember watching an interview with Philip Treacy and he said Bea’s left her hat 100% up to him. So it wasn’t really her fault.

      • I forgot to say that I agree her hat really took away from her coat. It’s an amazing coat and I don’t think anyone really saw it because we were all staring at the hat!

      • Beatrice is the one who chose to wear it. Perfect hat for Ascot. Terrible hat for a wedding. She had to know it was going to upstage everyone else.

  18. The best hat in this collection is the one that got no mention – the one worn by Lady Frederick Windsor. Slightly crazy but not overwhelmingly so – and it matches her dress beautifully. The whole thing exudes a bit of a 40’s vibe that I just can’t help loving.
    (Princess Anne’s looks a bit like somebody decided to recycle the lid of mother’s day chocolate box.)

  19. Well you’re right of course about Bea’s hat, but I doubt that was her intention. I laughed when I saw it (and me and all my guests did sing Lady Gaga songs whenever she was on screen), but I do find something rather stunning about it – but it just wasn’t right on her, on that day. And as you rightly say, that coat was stunning. Eugenie fared worse in my eyes, that outfit and hat were utterly inflattering.

    • Ooh pressed post too soon! I meant unflattering of course!

      Soph was at the beginning of her winning streak and that suit is fabulous, I’m just a bit bored by the hat and the colour could do with a lift. I Love Anne’s suit – the hat could work if it weren’t so plonked on her cottage loaf. And Zara – who so often gets it wrong in my eyes – was nothing but fierce!

    • You’re right, JamesB. I seriously doubt any ill-intentions on Princess Beatrice’s part but as you can tell, her hat rubbed me entirely the wrong way. There’s a reason I’ve kept it off the blog until now!

      • It’s an opinion divider to be sure. I imagine she was mortified afterwards, though I thought selling it for charity was a classy move. At the very least it got people talking about, and taking an interest, in hats again!

  20. Finally, someone whose honest about why Princess Beatrice’s hat was so awful. You tell ’em HatQueen!

    I liked Sophie’s hat and suit. I didn’t like Zara’s hat but it looked good on her. I really like Autumn’s hat.

    It’s sad to say but I can see how everyone compared Beatrice and Eugenie to the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella. Their outfits are so out there they look like cartoon characters.

  21. I just want to be nice so I prefer not to comment on everybody’s hat. 😉 Sophie’s hat and outfit are really beautiful, perfectly appropriate, and the colour is lovely. The headband is just a little too… visible.

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