Belgian Royals on State Visit To Japan

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde embarked on a state visit to Japan earlier this week. They were officially welcomed at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday where, as expected, the occasion saw a number of new hats.

Embed from Getty Images
Queen Mathilde stood out in a new brown wool casque style headpiece covered in red-orange and brown maple leaves. There’s no doubt this is a unique and daring design that requires considerable millinery bravery to carry off but I wonder if it’s a little TOO far out there to be considered attractive. I’m just not sure a leaf covered helmet, no matter how creative or beautifully executed, can be flattering.
Embed from Getty Images
Designer: Fabienne Delvigne
Previously Worn: This hat is new

Empress Michiko topped a charcoal suit with a small matching saucer hat. While this follows the same shape and scale of many of Michiko’s other hats, it is set apart with a double underbrim in silver lattice straw and a simple ribbon twist trim in a lighter shade of grey.

Embed from Getty Images
Designer: Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new

Crown Princess Masako topped her pale pink suit with a matching hat. While the shape of this design- with a domed, straight sided crown and primly upturned brim- is neither memorable nor flattering on Masako (from the front view, the hat looks too big for her), I think it may be partially redeemed with that lovely, pleated hat band.

Embed from Getty Images
Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new
These three hats cover completely different ends of the royal millinery style spectrum and while it doesn’t seem fair to compare them, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on each design. Let’s chat!
Photos from Getty as indicated 

24 thoughts on “Belgian Royals on State Visit To Japan

  1. Hi. I think you forgot four hatty events of CP Masako in 2016. Please add them to the list of her events.
    Her visit to Nara and Kyoto in July (
    Promotion of Blood Donation in July (
    Japan’s Delegation for Rio 2016 in July (
    50th Anniversary of National Youth Center in January (

  2. I like the Queen’s hat but I wasn’t sure about the dress, it chops her off in the middle. The Empress looks lovely. I like the cape look of her suit top. The hat is interesting but I am not a fan of the small size or that it sits too far forward. I actually like the Crown Princess’s hat.

  3. I think the hat and outfit are lovely – and were bound to be appreciated by her hosts and the people of Japan. The hat captures autumn in Japan – the vibrant shades of the maple leaves – and then makes a clever nod to origami. I think a touch of yellow might not have gone amiss in the hat, though. Her clothing has a lovely ‘Oriental feel’, both the skirt print and the silk look to the two pieces.

  4. I really like Mathilde’s casque! While I understand the objections I’m reading here, I think it stops at just the right point: it’s not too big, textured, or colorful in the way of Queen Elizabeth’s eccentric flowery helmets of the 1960s. The asymmetrical placement is just right, too.

    The Empress looks lovely, as always, in her signature style.

  5. Hat Queen, thank you for the primer on the “casque”-style hat. Interesting to learn the background.
    I like Queen Mathilde’s hat and her entire ensemble. The Empress is lovely as always.

  6. I really like this hat! I think it doesn’t have any hint of “helmet” because of being asymmetrical and therefore not actually framing the face completely (which would indeed give it a whiff of pantomime). As it is, I think it’s an interesting hat that suits the outfit very well.

    • While other bloggers have identified this as Fabienne Delvigne’s work, the milliner herself has not. Delvigne quickly claimed a red cocktail hat Queen Mathilde wore yesterday (we’ll look at that later today) but has not said anything about this leaf hat which leads me to conclude it is not her design after all.

  7. Mathilde’s hat is too costumey for me, and doing the leaves in different colors with veins also running through them makes it worse. If there had been just a few of these as trim on a brimmed hat, I probably would love it, but this is too much. Kate showed how best to wear leaves without being costumey both times she’s visited Canada. I adore the rest of her outfit though!

    While the Empress is in her signature grey and that makes her ensemble not as exciting, I think she is the best dressed of the day. Very chic as always.

    Lovely to see Masako, but the shape and color of this hat is very dull, but the hatband does save the day. Most importantly, it’s wonderful to see her at an event like this.

    And I have to say the Emperor looked quite sharp in his navy double breasted suit, something we usually only see on the Prince of Wales!

  8. Count me in on the “love Mathilde’s hat” column. I think the whole ensemble is perfection. The Empress is her usual understated and elegant self and the Crown Princess makes me happy by just being there and looking happy. I wouldn’t care if she wore a paper bag on her head, I am just pleased to see her out and about.

    • So agree. The Queen’s hat is so much an improvement over other royal leaf hats (DofC’s red mess on her first Canada tour -ugh!), who would ever have guessed the Empress branching out into new territory with the lattice underlays at this point in her hat career, and CP Masako out again, so much more so in the last few months, just a joy to see her taking her place as the Empress-to-be & that we always knew she had in her.

  9. I really like this hat. I think it suits Queen Mathilde very well. Love the symbolism of maple leaves. It looks as the hat only covers the right side of the head, thus avoiding it to ever into shower cap territory.

  10. When I first saw the photos of Queen Mathilde’s hat the reaction was “wow, I love it” – the design is unique and flattering. It goes my vote!

  11. Absolutely fabulous!! I love this hat! The queen’s ensemble is exquisite..the vibrant reds and golds are truly a tribute to their hosts! As always, the Empress dresses beautifully. All her beautiful signature hats are unique in color, scale and texture.

  12. Now I rather liked Mathilde’s autumnal titfer. The colours are lovely and it tones well with her lovely outfit. I call it a hit.

  13. The Leafy Helmet looks perfect on Queen M, and the whole outfit is a poem to autumn. Im sure the japanese admired the look and Acers are very much a feature of Japan both in gardens and the countryside. The Empress is unique in her own style and the hat is charming. The Crown Princess is there and looking happy and although the hat is large I think its a pleasing outfit conforming to the strict etiquette of the IHA.

  14. I googled some state visit from Monarchs to Japan and so far all the Queen’s had rather small hats, having said that I get a sixties vibe from this one.I think older people would love this. I for one hope it doesn’t emerge any time soon.

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