British Royals Celebrate Women’s Institute Centenary

100 years of the British Women’s Institute was celebrated by a large garden party at Buckingham Palace yesterday, attended by four female members of the royal family and over 8000 members of the WI .  The Duchess of Cornwall led the quartet of royal hosts in a large cream straw picture hat. This hat, which features an oblique crown and wide, gently upfolded brim, is trimmed with folded bands of wide navy and slimmer cream straw around the brim; a cream multi looped bow and large feather on the side of the hat finish it off. The classic navy and cream scheme give the hat crisp elegance that fit well with Camilla’s dress and tailored coat.

Designer: Philip Treacy
Previously Worn: May 22, 2013; July 11, 2009;  May 8, 2009June 8, 2007July 14, 2006; July 20, 2005; and June 28, 2005 

Princess Alexandra repeated a natural straw hat with tall, rounded crown and flat brim. The hat, which has been in circulation since at least the mid 1990s, was trimmed with an array of colourful silk blooms around the base of the crown and a swath of widely woven cream net veil. The hat coordinated perfectly with Alexandra’s Chinoiserie silk jacket and while it borders becoming a 1990s cliché garden party hat, Princess Alexandra’s innate elegance forces me to simply smile at this hat and move on.

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: June 20, 2012June 1995

The Countess of Wessex repeated her pale grey mushroom brimmed picture hat trimmed in swirling black feathers and cream curling organdie ribbon. We have seen Sophie in a plethora of beret-based cocktail hats of recent and I adore that she chose a picture hat for this event.

Designer: Jane Taylor. Dress by Emilia Wickstead. 
Previously Worn: May 17, 2014;  August 9, 2013June 4, 2013

The Duchess of Gloucester looked lovely in pale blue from head to toe. Her hat, a modern take on a cloche shape with squared crown and flared base, was all about shape and texture- texture gained through the use of this unusually woven straw. While there is a distinctly ‘overturned bucket’ vibe about this piece, I love to see mature royals experimenting with creative millinery shapes. With her streamlined blue coat, I think this ensemble is both interesting and very elegant (just different placement on that pair of brooches next time, please!)

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: May 28, 2015; June 12, 2010; February 4, 2009; June 2, 2007
What did you think of this quartet of British royal hats at yesterday’s all-female event?
Photos from Getty as indicated

25 thoughts on “British Royals Celebrate Women’s Institute Centenary

  1. I’m lazily guessing (ie, not looking before commenting) that the Duchess of Gloucester’s outfit is the same one we only glimpsed from photos of the recent garden party? In any event it suits her very much. I like Alex’s hat and outfit – very English and a woman of a certain age piece of headgear, like Sophie’s, but hesitate over Camilla. I’m baulking at the bold horizontal stripes of the hat and the polka dots on the dress. All seems ever so slightly a clash, and only kind of saved by that nice plain blue coat.

    • Seriously? HatQueen provides links to all the previous times each hat has been worn. It really doesn’t take that much energy to click on a link, does it?

      The Duchess of Gloucester did wear this hat for the last garden party. I’m not one for such close repeats but to each their own. The shades of blue between Camilla’s hat and coat are a little different but not so much to cause a problem for me. I would like to see this hat with the other outfits its been worn with (hint hint!) to compare.

      • Oh yes, my mistake. Will teach me to post late at night when tired. In the fog thought I was going to have to go to the DM to find the pic.

  2. The Countess of Wessex is the winner here I think. Her hat and outfit are the best coordinated and the hat really flatters her face. I would like to closet raid this entire look. The runner-up award goes to the Duchess of Gloucester. The light blue flatters her blonde coloring, and the unusual hat shape and texture, which could easily have gone into bucket territory, is saved by its slightly asymmetrical brim section. I like the Duchess of Cornwall’s hat, except for that feather sticking out at the side, which doesn’t relate to anything else. This looks like the same hat Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wore. Please see the link. While I admire Princess Alexandra for her bright outfit, and garden party retro-look hat, i do not like the netting on it, and I think the hat and the outfit, both very busy looks, combine to make for too busy an overall look.

  3. Everyone looks fabulous! Except Camilla!
    Black shoes and bag with navy ( lovely) coat and dress? Is it tribute to Mother-in-law?
    Hat paired with umbrella?
    As usual, when C shows her ” creativity ” in assemble an outfit ( instead to follow designed and paired outfits with hats) the outfit turns in pure disaster.

    • Your comment is so rude.

      There’s nothing wrong with wearing a navy coat and black shoes. It is also completely common for royals to bring umbrellas to a garden party if there’s a chance of rain. Water will damage a straw hat.

      And how do you know that Camilla used her own creativity to assemble this outfit? Maybe the coat and dress were designed to go with this hat.

  4. Sorry folks I don’t like this hat of Camillas paired with this rather gorgeous coat. I am not sure the colours of blue are close (or far) enough apart to compliment each other. I have scanned the previous wearings and most times the outfit worn is a less bright shade of blue, or…there is more white/cream on the outfit to balance the predominant white on the hat. The outfit however is smashing with those little flirty polka dots peeping through. Camilla is really looking great these days. Her outfits are very her, somewhat chic and beautifully tailored with usually some little pop of interest to enliven and elevate them. Good for her.
    I think Princess Alexandra’s hat has been rather tastefully redecorated. The decoration copies so faithfully and beautifully the pattern on the suit, although I am not a fan of the net.

  5. I’m afraid I must revive the debate began the last time the Countess of Wessex wore this hat, and insist that it is the same hat worn previously to Sandhurst.

  6. I really like the Duchess of Cornwall’s total look, she is amazing. The Duchess of Gloucester is lovely as well. She has an understated elegance. Both Princess Alexandra and The Countess of Wessex look just right for a garden part.

  7. I like all four of these hats and their respective outfits. It’s interesting that each is so different from the others – Camilla’s classically elegant with large scale but clean shapes, Princess Alexandra’s floral trimmed straw classic in another sense, Sophie’s with lots of embellishment that doesn’t look too much because her overall outfit is beautifully balanced, and Birgitte in a very simple but interestingly shaped hat – and yet all four look appropriate for a garden party. My favourite hat is Sophie’s, but such a good turn-out from all the royal family here.

  8. I love all of this, the ladies all look elegant and garden party appropriate! Hard to pick a favorite hat as each of them are suited to their wearers. But if I had to pick one to put in my closet it would be either Birgitte’s or Sophie’s. Alexandra looks so wonderful, I am so glad we are seeing more of her lately.

  9. I think they all looked lovely – Alexandra is everyone’s favourite! I see what you mean about the placement of the Duchess of Gloudester’s brooches, but I think they are not brooches but clips – very popular in the twenties/thirties – and it is difficult to find a place to clip them, other than on her collar!

  10. Don’t they all look lovely and garden party like! A great showing, and some hat thrift on show here, these already all recycled, some VERY recycled! Alexandra is my favourite – wouldn’t you just love to hang out at a garden party with her!!

  11. I like all of the ladies and their hats, and outfits, but I love the Duchess of Gloucester’s hat and outfit the best. It was simple, and just lovely, and a flattering color. Next, I liked Princess Alexandra’s hat. It was delightful and just what I like to see. It is fun, but it isn’t over the top. I liked the Duchess of Cornwall’s hat the least, but for me, Camilla can do no wrong, so she can wear anything she wants and I won’t mumble too much!

  12. They all looked nice. Princess Alexandra was perfectly dressed for a garden party. The navy blue was not the right colour for a garden party…yet it was a nice outfit…Camilla.

  13. Are you sure that Princess Alexandra’s hat is the same one worn in 1995? Both are straw with flowers, but the floral arrangement is completely different: different colors, different placement, different sizes. Today’s goes perfectly with the Chinese jacket. Perhaps new flowers were found and planted on the old straw hat. It has a good shape.
    I think everyone else looked nice at this outing too, especially the Countess of Wessex.

    • The hat is the same- I think, as you suggested, the flowers have been replaced. It makes sense that after 20 years, silk flowers might need a refresh!

  14. They all look lovely, but Princess Alexandra stole the show, in my opinion! She looked lovely and happy and like a walking garden!

  15. Camilla was my favorite of the day; I had forgotten about this hat and very much enjoyed its reappearance at this event. On anyone else Alexandra’s outfit would look more dated, but she makes it work so well, and the fact her skirt is just a plain color helps modernize things a bit more. I like that Sophie wore something with a wider brim and think it’s appropriate for the occasion, but it doesn’t wow me. Finally, this has always been an interesting hat on Birgitte, and I think she is able to pull it off, but very surprised she repeated it to a very similar event only a few days later.

    • Just realized Alexandra wore this hat to Day 2 of Ascot in 2012, although with a different outfit; I like this outfit with it better.

      • Thanks, Jake. I’m certain this hat has been worn many different times since the 1990s. Unfortunately, public photo archives of the Princess have gaping holes.

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