Windsor Wedding, Thirty Years On

 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.

Embed from Getty Images
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. 

Embed from Getty Images  Embed from Getty Images

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

10 thoughts on “Windsor Wedding, Thirty Years On

  1. The Duchess of Kent can wear almost the entire outfit today. Even the Cossack hat, which is the least of my favorite styles can almost be worn today. But even on her It does make the face look wider.

  2. You are correct that this hat style was popular in the 80s — here is a photo of Diana in a very similar hat in 1985:

    Incidentally, we were previously discussing wrap-style coats when Meghan wore one to the Christmas service — someone said they look like bathrobes, forgot who. You may recognize the coat in the above photo as the former wrap-style coat that Diana wore in 1981 on her first visit to Wales (topped on that occasion with the hat with the big droopy feather that got caught in the rain) — as you can see in the above photo, she later had it restyled as a double-breasted coat, so apparently she was in agreement about the bathrobe look!

  3. This is a fun flashback! I remember this wedding and loved the outfits so much. I’m not a huge fan of the hats, but that’s what was popular back then.
    I must say the flowers at the Royal weddings in Scotland are stunning bouquets. I really love the Countesses bouquet, and remember how beautiful Zara Tindall’s was as well.

  4. Oh, how I love the Duchess of Kent! She could wear a bucket on her head and look wonderful. The Cossack-style hats look rather striking, but I prefer the picture of the more traditional gown and headpiece the bride is wearing in JamesB’s link.

  5. I remember liking this at the time, if thinking the hat was a slightly odd shape. I look back on it now, and think it’s reather lovely actually. The Cossack look was very in in the late 80’s wasn’t it! I tihnk the reds worn by the Duchess and lady Helen are particualrly effective too.

    Sylvana actually wore a second dress later in the day, which also featured a net headpiece of sorts – hopefully this link works.

    • JamesB, I am confused by the link you posted. That photo shows what seems to be a more traditional white or ivory wedding dress and veil, but it is later in the day than the blue outfit posted by HatQueen? Is it possible that the link you posted is the actual wedding and the blue outfit is the going-away outfit?

    • Thanks, James- I vaguely remember seeing this photo before. Shame we don’t have a better view of this headpiece. It looks like an embellished half circlet, worn as a calot, with a pouf of net veil,

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