One Coat, Two Hats

Royal HatsOn Sunday, Queen Elizabeth surprised us by wearing this new red hat to church:

Designer: I suspect Angela Kelly
This was unusual for a couple of reasons. The Queen does not usually use Sunday church as an occasion to début a new hat- she usually saves new pieces for big events such as Trooping the Colour, state visits and Ascot. The new hat was also paired with a red coat and printed black and red silk dress we’ve seen before, back in April 2012, on a Diamond Jubilee visit to Greenwich:
Designer: I suspect Angela Kelly
The original hat worn with this dress and coat was a rather stark design with tall, flat crown and flat brim. Now here is where things get interesting (thanks to additional sleuthing from readers Baxter and Snug Harbour)- this original hat also appears to have made its debut at Sunday church in Norfolk, back in 2010 (below).  If you look closely, you’ll see that the hat was paired with the same coat usually worn with a Rachel Trevor Morgan designed hat (below, bottom).
This begs some interesting questions- was the flat topped hat brought in to replace the beautiful flowered RTM design and didn’t cut the mustard? Was it lurking about in the Queen’s closet without an assigned coat to accompany until 2012? Is it more than coincidence that these two red coats are exactly the same shades? And is there a reason why the flat topped hat was worn just once with Sunday’s coat before being replaced (I assume) by the red and black hat?
All these questions and millinery mystery aside, I think this retirement was a good call. The flat-topped hat’s shape, reminiscent of a Pilgrim or Puritan hat, combined with its lack of embellishment makes for an extremely austere piece that I don’t think works with the floral print dress and Peter Pan collared coat nor is flattering on the Queen. I suppose that sometimes, designs on paper just don’t translate well in reality and when that happens, going back to the drawing board is the best option.
I much prefer the new hat but I do not expect you all to agree! So I’m curious- which hat do you prefer?
Photos from Getty and Rex Features as indicated

19 thoughts on “One Coat, Two Hats

  1. I will not be shocked if it’s a unanimous decision. The original hat has terrible lines and proportions. The new one is a great improvement. My heart, though, belongs to the RTM (one of my all-time faves)

  2. I agree with HatQueen and most of the other comments by readers, that the new hat is much better than the old one. The trim ties in with the red and black dress, and adds some interest. However, I still am not convinced that these hats with tall crowns and short brims are flattering to the Queen.

  3. I have a few disjointed thoughts on this perplexing hat situation.
    Good sense (and taste) would indicate that this unflattering flat Pilgrim hat could not possibly have been selected on purpose to replace the beautiful RTM hat. If the RTM hat had been temporarily misplaced or damaged, however, I suppose the other hat might have been summoned (from London to Norfolk?) as a replacement, but this misplacement or damage, then, must not have occurred on the same Sunday morning when it was worn to church in 2010. If the damage were noted several days in advance, though, surely an entirely different outfit would have been chosen.
    There are a few instances (including the light lilac/lavender for meeting the Pope and a couple of times with bright blue coats) when a mismatched coat and hat combination have been worn just once in public. That makes me wonder whether a back-up coat and/or hat always accompany the Queen in case of accidents on the road. If someone spills a cup of tea on the Queen right before an event or if a hat were to fly off and be stepped on, I doubt the Queen could appear in public in a soiled coat or hat. The Queen has so many similar outfits that there probably always is a coat or hat that could pinch-hit for another in an emergency.
    At any rate, I hope we do not see this flat Pilgrim hat again — with any coat!

  4. The old hat has got to be the most unflattering one HM has ever worn (and that includes some of the awful 70s one and the infamous hairnet). It looks like it’s too small. The new hat is much much better.

  5. I much prefer the new hat (like everyone so far!) The trim is a very elegant take on a red and black theme, and well executed. I also like the Rachel Trevor Morgan red hat, but the flat one is not flattering…

  6. One of the few times I can truly say I hate one of HM’s hats! The original hat would be much more suited for plants than to be put on a head. It is so boxy and sits much too high on HM’s head, not because the head size is too small, but because of the design. Glad it has not returned and the new one is a vast improvement.

    • True. I believe on this occasion the Queen was wearing her regular bright red coat and dress, then one photographed flapping in the breeze when she visited Prince William while on duty. (I think so because it looks like the same button near the collar.) Odd that all the red wools are interchangeable, however.

      That original hat was awful, didn’t look as though it would fit any adult.

      • You two are such SUPER sleuths. This completely deepens the mystery surrounding this hat- millinery intrigue, indeed! I’ve updated the post to include your findings. Great work!

  7. I don’t think you’ll get much disagreement, HatQueen. As JamesB says, the original hat looks too small, as though it’s not completely secure on HM’s head. The trim on the new one finishes it off and ties it to her ensemble much better.

  8. Oh I very much agree! The first one is too severe and looks somewhat small (though I don’t doubt it’s an illusion, as I’m sure Angela knows her hat size inside out!)

    This reminds me of the very plain, off the face hats she wore in the 80s and 90s. Now we often complain that her hats are over-embellished, then they were too stark. Just shows what a style makeover HM had around the millennium doesn’t it, and how much better her hat closet is for it!

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