Seen It Before: Queen Elizabeth’s Somerville Swirls

Royal HatsLast year, Queen Elizabeth surprised us by repeating a black and white hat by Philip Somerville with distinctive crown in white swirled silk.

Embed from Getty Images

Many of you will remember a similar hat with swirled crown the Queen wore several years ago, also by Somerville, in softest petal pink.

Embed from Getty Images

These, however, are not the only two swirled crown hats that Philip Somerville made for Her Majesty. If you go back a decade, you’ll see an even earlier version

Visit of Queen Elizabeth II in France

On a visit to France, June 9, 1992

I find it fascinating to see Somerville’s experiments with this shape from the earlier hat to the later ones. I suspect most of us will prefer the later hats but I have great appreciation for the earlier one as well. Looking at this group I’m left with admiration for Queen Elizabeth’s millinery bravery- while some royals find a particular hat style and stick to it for decades (or more!), she has has continued experimenting with different shapes and styles of hats. Thanks to the immense creativity of her milliners, hers is truly an evolution of style. 
Photos from Getty as indicated and Bisson-Le Segretain-Orban/Sygma/Corbis



16 thoughts on “Seen It Before: Queen Elizabeth’s Somerville Swirls

  1. I really hope Her Majesty appreciates how beautiful she looks in the black and white hat and the pink one! I cannot say what it is about them but ever since I first the pictures, I thought to myself, “Yes, these hats are THE best on you!” Remember how The Queen Mother wore the one style of hat for the last few years? Just different colours and slightly different netting. She found a style and stayed with it. Yes, I have loved other styles on The Queen but for my money, this style is THE best!

  2. Although I’ve always liked the black and white and think it’s the best of the four, the pink is perhaps the most dramaticl. It was a departure from the standard match-the-hat-to-the-coat formula too, since the dress and coat lining were pink, but the white coat has no pink showing on the outside. The orange hat is particularly attractive too.

  3. The black and white hat is dramatic. Quite a striking outfit. We don’t often see the Queen’s brooch in such high contrast. I love the pink hat, it looks like a swirl of whipped cream. Very soft, feminine and appealing.

  4. I definitely prefer the later black & white and pink hats (both are two of my favorites for HM) as opposed to the earlier creations, but I definitely see the evolution, and none look bad on HM. If the blue one had been more of folds cascading across the crown rather than twisting up to a point, I would love it! The orange one is just too many folds and swirls for me, and therefore overwhelms the hat a bit too much.

  5. I prefer the black and white. The soft swirl provides a contrast to the brim. The second two are a little too pouffy, and the third makes me think of a pith helmet.

    Agreed, though, that it’s nice to see the variety.

  6. I find these hats stunning. The Queen can rock her hats. They remind me of many of the elegant hats southern African American ladies wear to church. The tradition continues with them, whereas white ladies have given them up.

  7. I like the first three. Any change for our Queen would be a nice change…well maybe not any change. It is time for a softer look.

    • Yes, indeed! A softer look as one ages. The stiff , hard, masciline , Dr Suess top hat variations are not flattering .

  8. That pink swirl is often mentioned by many as a favourite – and I see why, it is lovely. There are others too – a white one with a purple feather worn for the Trooping fits the bill I think.

    The first one, I seem to remember was done as a tribute to a hat from Hungarian national dress.

    I rather like these swirls, I hope AK takes note and has a go, I reckon if she kept the trim to a minimum she could pull it off!

  9. Really the only example here I care for is the black and white. The only thing I like about the pink example is the big ole fat pink diamond in the center of that brooch – wow! But you do have to hand it to Her Majesty, she’s clearly a good sport about wearing the various hat styles her milliners have created over 63+ years.

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