Closer Look: The Mirman Welsh Investiture Hat

Royal HatsAnother one of Queen Elizabeth’s instantly recognisable hats from the past is the design Simone Mirman created for Prince Charles’ investiture as Prince of Wales on July 1, 1969.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

It’s no surprise that this famous ensemble is included in this year’s landmark 3-part exhibition “Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe.” The Royal Collection Trust recently shared the following photo and video of the outfit and hat on display at Holyrood House. The video below gives a wonderfully close view of the hat.

This glimpse uncovers a few surprises- not only are the hat and coat pale yellow (I always thought they were both cream), the hat is much more elaborately embellished with bugle beads and pearls than it shows in photographs. The level of detail is simply astounding- while the snood shape is not likely a favourite, the workmanship on this piece garners serious respect.
What do you think of this famous hat, now that we’ve had a closer look?
Photos from Getty as indicated

28 thoughts on “Closer Look: The Mirman Welsh Investiture Hat

  1. Thank you for the close-up look at this ensemble. That hat has always annoyed me. It reminded my of a cut-up tennis ball stuffed onto a cat’s head! Now that I can see the workmanship, I am awed. But it’s still the least-flattering hat ever, IMO.

  2. This hat can ve viewed through many lenses. But it is still one of the least flattering shapes and styles I have seen Her Maj wear. My contention is that the designer failed at the brief.

  3. Thanks HatQueen, these closeups are a revelation. I had no idea that there was beading.
    This hat is unique. For me it is clear that it was designed for a ceremonial occasion. It is heavy with symbolism — the way the crown sits square on HM’s head and rises straight up in very formal fashion behind her hairline, like an ancient Egyptian headdress; the military vibe from the helmet shape: the snood effect (especially the back view) referencing the 11th Century (when the POW title was created) and the motif of the diamond net beading pattern and the use of pearls, which were a common feature of QE I’s gowns; even the space age helmet vibe (this was the year when the first man walked on the moon) – all these together make this hat like no other. HM is not wearing any regalia whatsoever, not even a brooch – but the hat communicates why this outfit is different from that worn for (say) attending a royal wedding. HM took part in the ceremony itself, so her hat reflected her role – like the formality of a bishop’s mitre. The oddness of the design is arresting, and now, having watched the video of the investiture, I must say that it works very well. The Queen looks head-to-toe stunning. If you watch the video, keep an eye out for Anne in a fabulous hat I would love to see again, and the Queen Mother in standard issue ostrich feathers (chartreuse), short sleeves and (yes) opera gloves!

  4. I must confess I have always loved the entire Investiture ensemble—-including the chapeau. The Queen looks quite regal in the rich Welsh daffodil yellow and the hat looks, as mentioned, very Tudor. It was as close to a crown as it could be without looking grandiose. Beautiful ensemble in every way!

  5. Leading up to the Investiture we had the history of Wales and Welsh customs taught at my school in Buckinghamshire and there were lots of TV programmes and articles in newspapers, I was 9 at the time and think that was when I fell in love with Wales, this was reinforced by moving to Hereford and actually getting to visit Wales on days out and a teaching staff and pupil population that had a very high percentage of Welsh people. When I met a single welshman I fancied…well 38 years together, 4 children and now i’ve lived in Wales longer than i lived in England..The Queens hat has always looked very strange to me and I remember being told its supposed to look modern and historical. The Princes coronet is a very spiky affair and again modern, in a way that dates it completely to the 60s. The Coronets and robes and other regalia of this investiture and the previous one used to be on display in Cardiff and they are quite small especially Edward VIIIs. The hat and coat seemed to be quite a bright yellow at the time. The workmanship is amazing and I think it just shows yet again that HM is very happy to wear ‘amusing’ hats, I wonder if she and Prince Phillip laugh about them when they are in private.

  6. Funny, I’ve always loved this hat because of how it suited the occasion, which needed a bit of costume. I had no idea that the “quilting” down the back was beading and appreciate it even more thanks to the video. Thanks for posting it.

  7. Her Majesty gamely wears much that would give others pause and this hat is a great example of that. Do you think she winced when she saw it for the first time or just rolled with it?

  8. I think the beading on the coat, tunic, and hat are amazing. Now I know what a bugle bead is. I am always learning something new everyday!

  9. I have a greater appreciation for this hat seeing it up close. it’s one of those pieces that looks better displayed than on a human head. The beading is exquisite (and the dress as well!). The hat is of its time. I know its referencing historical headwear but it’s a 60s interpretation of that.

  10. The hat looks like helmet. She just needs to add goggles, and she’s off. I also thought this outfit was cream. The rest of the outfit is absolutely beautiful, I’ve always loved it.

  11. Not sure why people would have thought it was any colour other than yellow – it was the investiture of the Prince of *Wales* so all symbolism was brought to bear (daffodils are the national flower of Wales, traditionally worn on St David’s day, March 1).

    I have noticed the Tudor detail on the hat before but these close-up shots are wonderful. The work is immaculate but, oh my goodness, the style of hat is dreadful. I can now respect the hand work but still don’t like the hat. A museum is probably the best place for it.

  12. I remember the day of the investiture and I thought at the time that HM was in a remarkable, memorable hat. I’ve always liked it and still do today. It is in the costume territory and really works for an ancient ceremony. I see the shout out to the times and styles of Henry VIII. To me it balances with the ultra modern of the Prince of Wales’ crown which was designed for the event. The impact of Lord Snowden’s talent, taste and opinion was all over the day in what every main player wore and every detail of the event.

  13. I was amazed to see this hat in detail for the first time and I immediately thought it looked like a Tudor headdress with the fabric ends tucked under. Now that I have seen that, I do appreciate it more. But it still doesn’t come across as a very attractive shape on the Queen. It might have been better with just the beaded cap and edge without the rest of it which gives it too much of a helmet look.

  14. Could we please get these “Closer Look” hats arranged in an index in the “design” tab as you did for all the Angela kelly styles. Cheers

  15. I too am loving the up close look at some of the Queen’s hats. This close-up shows just how much work goes into the making of a hat, and not just its structure, beautiful beading. I also always thought the outfit was cream in color. While the hat may not be for everyone it was a hat made for the occasion, a modern queen participating in a time honored tradition, with a hat made to play a part.

  16. This hat is unbelievably intricately put together and looks amazing — until it’s put on human head, that is. Everyone who’s seen pictures of the investiture in 1969 remembers this hat well, I’m sure, but probably for its ugliness rather than for its superb workmanship. On exhibit now, it’s perhaps now getting proper attention and adoration.
    Thank you again for these in-depth looks at historically significant hats!

    • Yes, serious respect for the hat now I’ve seen it in close up, but my goodness even my young eye could see at the time that it looked like a helmet (something from Dr Who!).

  17. I’m sorry, but I absolutely loathe the hat. It isn’t flattering in any way to the Queen. I can’t figure out what the designer was going for, but it is a spectacular failure.

  18. Seeing the details up close (which never were evident in photos from the actual event) make me appreciate this more, but I still think it’s one of my least favorite hats for HM. Calling the color “pale primrose” is much nicer than my description of butter yellow haha, but I do like the coat. This whole event was quite interesting, with the monochrome ensembles for HM, the Queen Mother, Margaret, and Anne, and much of it being organized by Lord Snowdon (whose family is largely Welsh).

  19. The video really is quite stunning – I am LOVING these closer looks, so fab to see the work in these wonderful hats up close. This is obviously an iconic outfit, and the coat is just amazing, so sleek and 1960’s; viewed on it’s own, it becomes something really very wonderful, and of its time. The hat – well I think it looks better on than it does in isolation. The shape is novel, and although the closer look means you can really see the intricacy of the beading, I find the shape a bit odd looking in the video. Worn however, in the pictures, I think it looks fabulous – yes, it’s an unusual look, but this was worn by a Queen on a very important day; a hat to make a statement was required. I think she looked regal beyond belief in this amazing ensemble.

  20. Wow. I can’t say I like it, but I like having a better view of it, and the back story. The beading is exquisite! I see the tie-in with ancient court style but it doesn’t quite pull it off. I think if the hat sat lower on the head it might look better. Who knows? It’s an oddment of history now.

  21. The workmanship is obviously superb, and I love the coat. But that hast to be one of the worst hat shapes I’ve ever seen. Holy cow. Thanks for sharing though, all the beading is lovely.

  22. It’s quite a stunning hat when we get to see a closer look at it. The craftsmanship is exquisite! The dress in modern photographs is quite stunning, and displays the elegant simplicity of the 1960’s.

    As much as I appreciate the talent involved in the hat, it always looked a little bizarre to me when the Queen wore it. A mashup of ’60’s and medieval designs.

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