Thirty years ago yesterday, the Duke and Duchess of Kent’s eldest son, George Windsor, Earl of St. Andrews, was married to Canadian professor Sylvana Tomaselli. At the time of the nuptials, the bride was Catholic and divorced, issues which prevented a church wedding and caused the Earl to give up his rights of succession (thankfully, times have changed). As such, a civil wedding was required and the young couple married in Scotland.
We don’t see many British royal weddings where the bride is not in a gown and veil but the unique circumstances at the time of this one made the bride opt for a suit and hat. Sylvana topped her royal blue dotted velvet suit and muff with a matching hat in matching silk. The tall, upfolded bumper brim gave the design a relaxed Cossack shape and the hat was simply trimmed with a large button in the same dotted velvet as Sylvana’s suit. The pieces combined to give a glamorous winter ensemble with luxurious texture and beautiful sheen.
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The Duchess of Kent went with a more traditionally shaped Cossack style hat in crimson, trimmed with wide black velvet ribbon piping and a giant bow at the back (perhaps anchored to her hair, below the hat?). Lady Helen Windsor, as was her title at the time, was also in red and black- her red cloche variation was trimmed with black brim piping and a wide velvet hatband and bow.
Barely visible at the far left of the photo below, Princess Alexandra looked to be wearing a brown fur papakha style hat. On the far right, Princess Michael of Kent wore an oversize, angular black brimless hat (perhaps also a modified Cossack shape?) with bow.
In combination, these hats always seemed like a technicolor Russian winter fantasy to me. We don’t often see tall Cossack shapes on royal heads, making this group all the more memorable. Thirty years on, what do you think of these hats?
Photos from Getty as indicated