Reader Guest Post: Musings On Repeat Royal Hats

I am pleased to welcome James to Royal Hats today (not to be confused with JamesB who shared musings last week). James lives in Derbyshire, UK and while he doesn’t see the Royal Family often, tries to attend a few royal occasions each year. He is a longtime royal watcher, regularly called as guest on local radio and TV to discuss the Royal Family (listen to him on BBC Radio Derby at 1:10:00 or on BBC Radio Sheffield at 16:55 last Tuesday discussing Prince William and Prince Harry’s recent documentary tribute to their mother). I’m honoured to learn he has followed Royal Hats since the beginning and very pleased to welcome him here to share about the single-wear hats in Queen Elizabeth’s closet he’d like to see worn again. Welcome, James!

 I.  Hat from Canada Day, 2010

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The first hat I would like to see for a second time is the white Angela Kelly design with mushroom brim that the Queen first wore on her last tour of Canada with the Duke of Edinburgh in 2010. This was a special outfit designed for the Queen’s presence in Ottawa on 1 July, Canada Day and featured a short red jacket – a departure from her usual long coat – and the maple leaf brooch she inherited from her mother.

Although the brim of the hat is slightly larger than it could be, I like the symbolism and the way in which it completes the ensemble. The dress and jacket were worn again for a reception for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015 but I would enjoy seeing the outfit complete with hat again – it would have been a good choice on 19 July when the Queen and Duke attended a reception at Canada House in London for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

II. Hat for the Diamond Jubilee Muster, 2012

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The flat crown, flat brimmed design of Angela Kelly isn’t a favourite of mine – it can seem too austere – but I particularly like the honeycomb design on the crown of this hat. The feathers are a simple trim and are on the left hand side of the hat, usually the decoration is on the right. The dress was worn for the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014 – uncharacteristic since the Queen usually wears black for the event:

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This outfit and hat would be an ideal choice for a future Trooping the Colour to allow the Queen to stand out among all of the scarlet uniforms of the guardsmen on parade.

III. Hat for the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla, 2012

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This Angela Kelly oblique brim hat reminds me of the ones worn by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and I would like to think this was Her Majesty’s way of remembering her mother during the Diamond Jubilee but I doubt this is the case. The white of this outfit and hat worn for the flotilla on 3 June 2012 allowed the Queen to stand out against the red upholstery of the Spirit of Chartwell and was bright on the awful weather of the day. I also like the sequins of the trim, making this hat fancier for the Diamond Jubilee.

IV. Hat for the 60th anniversary of the Coronation, 2013

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While I love the gold colour of this Angela Kelly oblique design worn for the service at Westminster Abbey on 4 June 2013, I’m not sure of the neckline and pleated hem of the accompanying coat. Still, the colour wins me over and the light blue flower trim was the matched the brooch from the Brazillian Aquamarine Parure – not often worn outside of state occasions with the tiara, necklace and bracelet which make up the parure. I hoped we might see this again at Royal Ascot – it would be perfect for the carriage procession against the green of the grass and for presenting – or even better, receiving – a prize.

V. Hat for arrival in France, 2014

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The State Visit to France for the 70th anniversary of D Day in 2014 saw the Queen debut several hats. This, from the arrival on 5 June is my favourite from the visit. The outfit, with short jacket, was first worn for a reception for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 but this was the first – and to date – only time this hat was worn. Another mushroom brim design of Angela Kelly’s, the shape is not my favourite on the Queen but I think the scale of the hat and the trim which matches the dress and trim on the jacket suit her perfectly and made for a stylish entry into the French capital, the home of haute couture. Incidentally, President Hollande was said to have brought a Renault out of storage to allow for the size of the Queen’s hats.

This is the hat I predicted for the ‘dressed down’ State Opening of Parliament in 2017. I had expected a white outfit for the sake of political neutrality and this one seemed ideal for temperatures in London of more than 30°C. How wrong I was…

VI. Hat for the opening of the Commonwealth Games in 2014

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I realise this oblique brim design of Angela Kelly divided opinion when it was worn for the opening of the Commonwealth Games on 23 July 2014 – largely due to the embellishment on the side of the hat. I am willing to overlook this though, the lace on the upturned brim makes the design for me and I can’t help but think that this would be an ideal choice for an event which calls for a hat higher on the fancy scale than usual.

In fact, this was my second choice for this year’s State Opening of Parliament – the silver appliqué reminds me of the embroidery on the evening gowns Her Majesty usually wears for the event.

VII. Hat for Trooping the Colour, 2016

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I was in London for Trooping the Colour on 11 June 2016 and saw this Rachel Trevor Morgan design in action for myself. Although bright – the hashtag #Neonat90 was trending – the neon green allowed the 90th (official) birthday girl stand out in the carriage procession in the Mall and the upturned brim framed her face as she looked up for the RAF flypast standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. I also got a closer look at the pink silk hydrangea trim when the hat was on display during the summer opening at the palace – it is truly exquisite and well worth a second wearing but probably at an outdoor event where she needs to be seen easily.

One thing that has surprised me is the number of Angela Kelly hats I have chosen – I generally prefer the designs by Rachel Trevor Morgan. It proves to me, though, that the hats are made by the wearing and the occasion rather than simply the design.

Thank-you James! I particularly appreciated the context you provided for your last suggestion and the description of its detail from close up view. I wish all of the Queen’s hats regularly went on exhibition for us to study, closeup and from all angles! This reminder of Angela Kelly’s oblique brimmed hats might be slowly warming me to them…

Photos from Getty as indicated

17 thoughts on “Reader Guest Post: Musings On Repeat Royal Hats

  1. What an interesting selection James. I see you include hats that may be said to fulfill opposing functions on the visibility scale – i.e. hats which work well when seen from far off (the Canada hat #I, the green neon #VII, ) and some which are best appreciated at close range (# III, IV, VI).
    My fave is the very simple black and white (France tour) #IV. I love white with black accents on HM — although I appreciate that this combination doesn’t meet the visibility and referencing requirements of many occasions.

  2. James, thanks for your picks! It’s interesting how not only did you choose a lot of Angela Kelly designs, but that many of the hats had similar shapes overall. I definitely agree the 2010 Canada hat and 2014 Commonwealth Games hats should make a return. And I’m so happy to see I’m not the only one who loves the 2016 Trooping #Neonat90 hat!

  3. Thank you, James! I really like the Canada Day hat, and it isn’t so Canada-specific that it couldn’t be worn for a non-Canadian occasion. The shape frames HM’s face so nicely.

    I love your anecdote about Hollande ordering a special car to accomodate the Queen’s hat.

  4. Great post, James! I completely forgot about the white lace hat from the Commonwealth Games and wish I had put it on my list! It’s such a beautiful hat and I’m guessing the closer view you get of it the better it is. It’s so interesting that there are a few hats in common between all of our lists. I also want to see that bright turquoise one from the Diamond Jubilee. Reading here that the dress got repeated makes me very excited that the hat could be too!

    • Thank you! I really enjoyed your post too. It is interesting that we chose similar hats. I think the whole ensemble of the Diamond Jubilee Muster worked very well. The coat hat a panel in the same fabric as the dress so it appeared open and showcased the dress. I was every surprised to see the dress worn for the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance because all of the royal ladies are usually in black. The Queen also had to rearrange her poppies because she had chosen not to wear one of her bow brooches which usually anchor them to her dress.

  5. I love your #1 choice. That is my idea of a hat. The only choice I will disagree with is the Flotilla hat. For some reason, I have never liked that one. I was a bit disappointed with the whole Flotilla outfit but I can live with the dress and coat.

    • The Flotilla outfit and hat are not my favourites on the Queen but I think they worked well in the setting. The only other time I think they would work equally well would be to stand out at Trooping the Colour like this outfit from 2014 previously worn in Australia in 2011: Embed from Getty Images.
      I must admit I have a bit of a soft spot for this outfit because it was the first time I had watched the ceremony in the stands on Horse Guards Parade.

  6. Everything except No III for the Jubilee Flotilla – although I like the coat and think that’s been worn since. I love the choice made for No I – it’s a beauty.

    • The dress has been worn several times but the coat only twice more that I am aware of – in June 2014 in France and again in Germany in June 2015.

      Perhaps the Queen agrees with you because when it was worn in Germany it was with a different hat: Embed from Getty Images. While I like the shape (echoes of Princess Beatrix) I think the decoration on the bow is not strong enough – one has to look closely before one realises it is the same fabric as the dress.

  7. We James’ must stick together! It seems we have a few we’d both like to see repeated…

    I also thought the oblique Commonwealth games hat would get a repeat for the Opening of Parliament, but she clearly wanted to make an EU point that day (or maybe not…)

    And the 90th birthday green is surely worth a rerun isn’t it. Neonat90, how many people can say that! Great post – really enjoyed it!

    • Indeed, we must stick together. Hope to meet you when I’m next in London for a royal event.

      I was surprised to see the Queen wear the hat she chose for this year’s State Opening of Parliament.
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      I think that, very unusually for her, it was an error because it became a talking point and overshadowed the speech. It was amusing however that Her Majesty should have been described as giving subliminal messages for the UK to remain in the EU when during the referendum campaign, she was reported as wanting to leave. I’m sure we’ll never know her real opinion.

  8. These hats certainly make for some striking ensembles. The only one I personally care for is the gold one with the underbrim light blue flowers. But this is a good reminder that a hat can be made better or worse by what it’s worn with, how it’s worn, when and where it’s worn, and by whom! All elements that combine to form our impression. Thanks for an interesting blog, James.

    • Indeed. Thanks for your kind words.

      The hats aren’t actually my focal point, pretty as they are but how the whole ensemble looks and how fitting it is to the occasion. The right hat can be ruined by the wrong outfit and vice-versa, although it is very rare for the Queen to put a foot wrong here.

  9. James, how interesting your list is (and that you realized you’d selected a majority of Angela Kelly designs.) I had to laugh at your prediction for the “dressed down” State Opening of Parliament this year!

    • I know, it came as a surprise when I compiled the list. I don’t dislike Angela Kelly’s designs – some work very well but I was surprised I chose so many of them. The thing to bear in mind was I was looking for ones that had only been worn once which narrowed the pool I had to choose from. If I went back further, I’m sure there would be others.

      • I was surprised when it came to my predictions for this year’s State Opening of Parliament. I didn’t expect the Queen to be in a colour which would be identified with any of the major political parties – this rules out blue, red, yellow, orange, purple and green. Wrong.

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        When it was announced the Prince of Wales would attend in place of the Duke of Edinburgh, I also thought the consort’s throne chair would be removed and the Prince would sit on a chair of estate at a lower level. Wrong again – and I call myself a royal watcher.

        Still, I’ve been asked to predict the colour of the Queen’s outfit for a visit during a radio slot before. I hate being asked that because I nearly always get it wrong – I’d be useless betting on the colour of the Queen’s outfit at Royal Ascot.

    • I know, it came as a surprise when I compiled the list. I don’t dislike Angela Kelly’s designs – some work very well but I was surprised I chose so many of them. The thing to bear in mind was I was looking for ones that had only been worn once which narrowed the pool I had to choose from. If I went back further, I’m sure there would be others.

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