Belgian & British Royals Commemorate Passchendaele Centennary

The Belgian King and Queen welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Belgium this weekend to take part in commemorations marking the centenary of Passchendaele – The Third Battle of Ypres. For the the Last Post ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial yesterday, Queen Mathilde wore a new hat. A moulded oval saucer with domed crown in light grey straw, the design is trimmed with straw twists. The hat is a great choice for Mathilde not only as a quiet diplomatic nod to her guests (I don’t think the choice of a piece by a UK based milliner was coincidental for this event) but as a soothing pairing to her fussy lace coat.

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Designer: Philip Treacy. I believe it is a bespoke version of OC 291
Previously Worn: This hat is new

The Duchess of Cambridge repeated her white sinamay structured saucer hat with high rim that is raised on one side (giving the look of an upswept ‘slice’ brim), trimmed in a pair of curling white feathers. The hat paired well with her McQueen coat, creating a polished head-to-hem look in remembrance white.

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Designer: Silvia Fletcher for Lock and Co. It is a bespoke version of the Marisabel design.  
Previously Worn: June 13, 2015

For a ceremony held at the War Graves Commisions’s Tyne Cot Cemetery, the two couples were joined by the Prince of Wales, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

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For this event, Queen Mathilde wore a new calot hat described by the designer as a “small bibi, called Skelly, is made of banana fibers and represents overlapping graphic shapes which give an impression of movement and lightness”. The hat is interesting (although a little clunky from the back) but with the dress and neutral accessories, the ensemble is (to quote one of my favourite previous comments here), ‘a whole lot of biscuit’. I suppose the neutral colour was chosen based on the sombre nature of the event but it’s rather bland.

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Designer: Fabienne Delvigne
Previously Worn: This hat is new

The Duchess of Cambridge also wore a small, neutral hued hat for the event. With a pale oyster straw beret base, the design is trimmed with trailing organdie ribbon bows. It’s a pretty enough hat but we’ve seen several very similar other iterations on Kate and the colour palate here is… well, it’s blurgh. Several other blogs are reporting this hat is a repeat of the one Kate wore back in August 2014 for another World War I commemoration in Belgium, then trimmed with a peach ombre silk pleated ruffle. Jane Taylor has not confirmed anything publicly (she usually does, which makes me unsure about these reports)- If the hats are indeed the same, I’m afraid this change of trim isn’t for the better.

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Designer: Jane Taylor
Previously Worn: possibly Aug 3, 2014
Some hits and misses here, I think, perhaps due to the tricky challenge of dressing for a sombre memorial event in the height of summer. What do you think of this quartet of royal hats worn in Belgium?
Photos from Getty as indicated

29 thoughts on “Belgian & British Royals Commemorate Passchendaele Centennary

  1. I loved QM’s elegant grey hat. While the coat made for interesting texture, I didn’t really care for it because it looks like nightwear and it is lace which I am sick of seeing. Her outfit from the second day was appropriately neutral.

    The first time Kate wore the hat from day one, I thought it looked like she had a particular brand of paper plate on her head (Americans will know the one I mean – think thick and white). Great paper plates – as headwear, no so much. My opinion hasn’t changed on the hat. While I am glad to see her repeating some pieces, there is something about the lapels on the McQueen coat that bug me. I can’t put my finger on the problem which irritates me even more. The hat from day two was alright except that it looks like so many others she has. The trim coming around the front reminded me of octopus tentacles. I think one of Kate’s problems is that her hairstyle lets her down. I call it the Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind style. It makes her look twenty years older than her actual age. Initial opinion on the Walker coat was pretty but like several others she already has. I didn’t notice the unfortunate trim placement until others started pointing it out. Now, I don’t like it as much.

  2. I had so many criticisms of these outfits that I waited to see what others would post first — since I’m not expert and I’m new to this group, maybe I’m wrong!

    First, the positive. Queen Mathilde’s outfit for the first day — both hat and coat — are in my opinion gorgeous, though on both my laptop monitor and my tablet they do look more like a dusty blue than the grey that everyone else is referring to. As someone else stated, it must be extremely difficult to choose appropriate wear for such a somber event — in my opinion, the muted color offsets any frivolousness that the lace might represent. Kate’s hat… can’t think of a kinder way to say it — I hate it, it looks like a “regular” hat that someone sat on and accidentally turned inside out. I didn’t like it any better the first time she wore it, though I will concede that it looks better with this coat then the previous one.

    Second day, Queen Mathilde’s dress is very reminiscent of a “mother of the bride” dress from a daytime wedding in the 70s. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a dress just like this up in my mother’s attic. I would like her hat better if it was worn farther forward, though I don’t know if that’s done for this style of hat. Back on her head like that, it looks (from the front) a little like an old fashioned nurse’s cap. (Think “General Hospital” in the 60s, for those of you in the U.S.) At least it’s not white! And Kate’s coat — fine from the front, though I don’t love it (and I didn’t notice the heart until others brought it up), but from the back, yikes! At first I thought there was something on my monitor, then I thought there were shadows in the photograph, then (for a fleeting moment) I wondered if she had sat in something. Only after that did I realize that it was part of the leaf design of the coat, and I guess, like the “heart” in the front, it’s just an unfortunately placed design — I would have liked it better if the leaf design in the back had started up higher, or not been there at all. Kate’s hat… it’s okay, thought I don’t like that one piece coming across the front right above her forehead — I keep thinking there might be a small animal up there whose tail is going to come down on her face at any moment.

    Sorry for the snark, folks, I must be in a really negative mood today!

  3. Day 1, Mathilde: the grey Treacy is perfect. The negligee coat, no match for the hat.
    Day 1, Catherine: all round best of the day. This hat looks SO much better than on its previous outing. This time it’s right hat, right hair, right earrings (and brooch), and right coat. I do find the boldness of this hat shape takes a bit of getting used to — but the overall “rightness” of the look this time around is compelling indeed.
    Day 2, Mathilde: this hat reminds me of chunky potato peelings. Not a design feature that appeals to me! and although I love beige on Mathilde, the dress construction is inadequate and unflattering — and (I never thought I would hear myself say this) the earrings are too big and casual for the outfit.
    Day 2, Catherine: I love this hat! Those swirls are gorgeous! And perfect with that coat neckline. What is less gorgeous is the coat embroidery (too fussy, competes with the hat); and it’s another attack of the overlarge earrings – these are too dominating next to the brooch and the hat trim. Replace those earrings with tiny ones and this would be a VERY elegant hat look. I hope we see it again.

  4. Both women have done well with their straight-forward approach to such a sombre and historic occasion.

    Last Post Ceremony: Mathilde is pitch perfect – the colour, the very clean lines of the hat and the femininity of her lace coat (middle of summer, don’t forget). Kate’s outfit is fine – working woman style (and nothing wrong with that), but I dislike her brooch intensely, it looks so fake, and the ‘balding’ feathers on the hat drive me mad. What’s wrong with luxuriant feathers? Seems a terrible waste of a natural resource to deliberately thin them out.

    Tyne Cot: Both women did okay, but there were some buts … athilde – adequate, but too beige. Imagine this in a purple shade – lilac, say, and with a deeper tone to the skirt – and I like it a whole lot more. Kate – *another* coat-dress!? Still, this one has a pretty lace border … oh, wait, there’s that front view. What was the designer thinking? And was Kate and her crew thinking? Today’s brooch … let’s just say I wasn’t surprised to read the Queen hasn’t worn it much either! (And if Kate likes her faux pearl Olympic rings, then she was bound to like this. Our tastes diverge here, that’s all.) The hat is fine, although maybe the trim could sit a little higher off the base. I’ll look forward to seeing it again in different circumstances to see if my opinion changes.

  5. The ladies look lovely. QMathlide’s Grey hat is divine… love the rest of the ensemble, but think the lace coat isn’t appropriate for the occasion.

  6. I think Mathilde’s grey hat and outfit win by a landslide here. I think grey is such a great alternative to black in terms of memorials; it’s not quite as somber, but still gives a good impression in terms of remembering tragic events such as Passchendaele (which I’ve read some brief horror stories about in my continuous WWI history reading). I think this Treacy hat is especially flattering on Mathilde and would love to see it repeated in a more joyous occasion, maybe with a fuchsia outfit?

    I do think this repeat of Kate’s hat was much more refined than its previous outing (the angle is much better this time). I think the all-white ensemble made for a very clean look that wasn’t too heavy in a way an-black ensemble can be heavy.

    Day 2 was much less successful for both Mathilde and Kate. Mathilde’s hat was nothing new for her, and of course the beige color was absolutely boring; I understand not trying to stand out, but I think grey would’ve been a much a better choice. I think Kate’s hairstyle was the big culprit in letting this hat down; her covered ears didn’t help the look, and somehow made this hat look very flat in my opinion. Also, while I understand the color choice so as to not stand out, Kate already has multiple cocktail hats in this color scheme, so I don’t know why she would need another.

  7. The hrhduchesskate blog reports that Kate’s dress for the second day is dusty rose and her clutch and shoes are pink. Obviously, these colors are so subtle they did not photograph well. I do like the thought of those colors better. I was hoping the hat had some pink shades in it, too. I do like the way the trimming lays on her second hat. It looks lovely! I have never been fond of the first hat, though it does look better with this more close up look than when she wore it to Trooping the Color.

  8. Queen Mathilde’s grey is the best of the bunch. It looks likes a bit of a nod to the WWI doughboy as well as a tribute to her British guests.

    I don’t mind the blergh so much on Kate’s new Jane Taylor since the swirling motion of the bow gives it a focal point. But it could have better tied in to the trim on the coat.

  9. Mathilda looked amazing, and I loved the first hat. Her lace coat was off-putting and I thought Kate looked more streamlined and elegant. Her calot hat was okay, but that second lace dress gets another thumbs down. Clothes wise, Kate wins for both occasions, but Mathilde’s hats were clear winners.

  10. Kate’s first look is a great re-use of pieces. It would work perfectly for me if the hat weren’t white to the cream of the coat. (I really do approve of her policy of mixing and matching previously worn pieces, they’re so expensive and it breathes new life.)

    And today, her coat is a rerun of the coat worn to the Queen’s 90th birthday, just a different take. The hat we’ve seen before in a different colour. It’s all fine, but she needs to stop buying the same thing in different colours.

    Mathilde looks nice both days, a bit elderly perhaps, but very Queenly.

    • I had to look twice (and then a third time) to make sure that both Kate’s coat and hat today weren’t repeats as they are SO similar to pieces already in her wardrobe.

      • I’ve just read that Kate’s hat is a retrimmed version of an old one, strangely the one she wore last time she met Queen Mathilde in 2014. I think it might be actually…

        • I don’t know, James- the two beret bases seem a slightly different shape to me

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  11. I have had the privilege of attending the Menin Gate ceremony and visiting Tyne Cote Cemetery, with tears streaming down my face. I can’t imagine having to choose an ensemble to be photographed in doing this. So well done, Your Majesty and Your Royal Highness. Both women are extremely elegant.

  12. My favorite hat from these two outings is Queen Mathilde’s gray hat. Lovely shape and simple but effective trim. Second, for a hat in itself, I’ll say Duchess Kate’s Jane Taylor hat from the second day because of the pretty trim. But it doesn’t relate to the dress much and the look is ruined by the hairstyle covering the ears. I don’t care for the Lock & Co hat at all. There’s something about that shape that looks upside down to me and also rather like a satellite dish. The beige calot is nice and reflects the circular rose shapes in the lace of Queen Mathilde’s dress. I also like how it sits on her head and showcases the Queen’s pretty hairstyle.

    • I agree with your comment about Catherine’s hairstyle covering her ears. The looks seems to throw the balance of her look off somehow. I love all the hats worn by Queen Mathilda and Catherine. I especially like Catherine’s second coat and the way it fits her waistline without a set-in waistline.

  13. The Queen in grey is absolute perfection from head to toe. Such a wonderful contrast between the hat and coat. The Duchess looks lovely enough, but I’m not a huge fan of the second hat. The trimming reminds me of some kind of debris that has washed ashore.

  14. QMathilde’s grey hat is lovely, but the coat/dress is WAAAAAAAAAAY too fussy. It reminds me of lingerie, which is not appropriate at this kind of ceremony. Her second look is perfect. It’s summer mourning at its very best. It echoes to the Queen Mother’s “White Wardrobe”.

    Catherine’s first hat is perfectly acceptable and her coatdress is spot-on. Well done her.

    Catherine’s second hat is very nice, but I’m not fond of the silhouette. And her coat…would her ladies-in-waiting and the designer PLEASE look at lace placement?! There’s a heart shaped space just below her “lady land”…ARGH.

    • There is a simple solution. Lift your eyes to the hats. It’s the preoccupation with the need to draw these generally innocent and/or photographic anomalies to everyone’s attention that is the real ARGH.

  15. Mathilde’s first hat is absolutely stunning. Great shape and perfect for the event. Bonus points for the English desinger! It works really well with her coat, which imo is just a little bit too fussy around the collar. Her hair is lovely too.
    The second hat is just ok, nothing more. But I do agree that it musn’t always be easy to dress appropriate for events like these. Not just because you don’t want to go too colorful or festive, but also because it’s outside and you have no idea what the weather is going to be.

    Kate’s first hat is great. But for me it only looks great from the front and her right side. I really don’t like it when you can see the base from the other angles.
    The second hat is nice. It has a lovely trim with a great movement. But I don’t think it really works with her coat. Maybe she needed a hat with a color that somehow matched the leaves on her coat.

  16. Queen Mathilde’s grey straw hat is gorgeous (the coat not so much!) The other three hats are very nice, but not on my “best of the month” list.

  17. I love Q Mathilde’s first look – utterly lovely. Great colour and lovely balance with the textures. The second look is also good if a bit all over neutral. I am torn with Kate. The first look I felt the larger hat looked a bit frivolous but I am prepared to be persuaded. I liked the second look a lot.The reporting mentions that the outfit is peach and grey and I am wondering if in the sunshine it is reading much paler in photographs than in real life? I preferred Kate’s hair on the first day – the second day worn over her ears makes the look heavier and I think that also affects the look of the pretty hat.

  18. I love Mathilde’s new grey saucer hat, it’s a great shape and grand while still being in essence simple. Kate’s white hat is also a good look. Mathilde’s calot, on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable but really not interesting. I do very much like the sense of movement in the trim of Kate’s new hat, but it’s only visible in close-ups, so I don’t think it can be counted particularly successful in terms of how it works for a royal engagement, and otherwise, from a distance, it too is perfectly acceptable but really not very interesting.

  19. I love both the DoCam’s hats (and looks). Yes, they’re not exciting, but this was not the occasion for exciting, and both are lovely. I also adore QMathlide’s first look. The hat, the lace dress/coat, the gloves, her gracious face. All wonderful. As for Q Mathilde’s second look, the best I can say is that the second hat isn’t an open crown. It looked like it was going to be and I’m just grateful it isn’t. Not bad, but not a fave.

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