Guest Post: Exhibition on Queen Margrethe’s Hats Part 2

I’m so pleased to welcome Denmark-based Dutch freelance journalist Inger Stokkink back to Royal hats for the second part of her review on the exhibit on Queen Margrethe’s fashion at Den Gamle By Museum in Aarhus. If you missed the first part of her article, jump over to this post to catch up.

Royal Hats of Queen Margrethe of Denmark (continued)

by Inger Stokkink


Queen Margrethe has been known to actively take part in the designing process with her designers, especially gala gowns, or ’big dresses’ as the Queen calls them. Festive gowns for royals have requirements and little tricks that do not play a role in the lives of lesser mortals. Orders, medals, and chains that are worn for ceremonial purposes, along with large pieces of jewelry need to be incorporated in the design. The inclusion of these items must happen not only visually but also in a practical and structural sense they can be so heavy that they weigh down the textile, thereby ruining design, material, drape and silhouette.

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These considerations do not play a substantial role in the design of royal hats, yet the Queen has plays an active role in the design process here, too. Tove Mathiassen points out a black calot hat, saying, ”We know for a fact that the Queen has been an active co-designer of both dresses and suits. And about one of the hats in the exhibition, the Queen has told that it first was worn at the occasion of the Crown Prince’s konfirmation in 1981 and later had added red flowers. ”

Black calot hat with red flowers, above right; in its original form, below, on May 28, 1981 at Prince Frederik’s confirmation with a black feather pouf on the side 

The hats themselves – on their own, so to speak – do miss their bearer and her clothes to bring the designs to life. Illustrations or photographs of the Queen wearing them would have helped the exhibition here. On the other hand: how much closer can you get to so many royal hats?

Cream straw wide brimmed boater with inset crin stripe on the brim second from left above, and in action below, at Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik’s silver wedding anniversary celebrations on June 10, 1992

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Pale blue straw football shaped saucer variation with silk crepe binding, hatband and floral trim pictured in the exhibition at top left above, and in closeup with curator Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen, below

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The hat in action (bottom left) on July 29, 1981 at the high profile wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer


Not only ’grown-up’ hats are on display. There is a special place for the type of hat that almost every Danish high school student shares with the Queen: the studenterhat worn during graduation festivities. The Queen has two: a Danish one, and one from the Faeroe Islands, with an extra tassle, and a beautifully monogrammed red-leather hatbox to go with them.

Should you wish to see these 42 hats for yourselves, visit Den Gamle By, the historical museum in the Danish town of Aarhus. The exhibition runs until September 9 this year and has two sections: gala dresses, and the dresses and suits she wore on her numerous visits around Denmark. The latter also includes some of her children’s clothes, a bicycle, and hats she made for performances of her friend’s Susanne Heering’s ballet school Fru H’s Danseinstitut.  If you have already seen the Queen’s dresses at the Frederiksborg exhibition in 2015, then you won’t find anything new – apart from the hats, of course.

If you read Danish, much about the Queen’s hats can be found in the book ’Dronningens Kjoler’ (The Queen’s Dresses) by Katia Johansen (2012, Gyldendal Publishers), pp. 100-105.

Inger- this has been such an insightful look at Queen Margrethe’s approach to fashion and millinery! The photos in this post alone show saucers, Bretons, unusual pillbox variations, wide brims, cloches and others that together, display a  wonderful diversity of scale, material and trim. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share this exhibition with all of us who are unable to attend. It really has been the most wonderful gift. 

Photos from Miguel Mielgo and Inger Stokkink may not be replicated in any way without written permission. 

Inger Stokkink is a Dutch freelance journalist living in Denmark. She divides her attention between politics, sailing and royalty – and hats. 

17 thoughts on “Guest Post: Exhibition on Queen Margrethe’s Hats Part 2

  1. WOW! What a challenge finding any of these hats on the royal head! The one photo I’m posting, I’m not even sure if it’s the same hat as what was worn at Diana’s wedding. This hat was worn at a wine tasting session in the 1970s, so it very well may NOT be the same. It’s not one of my favorites. BTW, I think the red hat box was more expensive than some of the hats.

    • Great find! I don’t think the hat is the same- it has a higher crown, a more pointed end and looks to be white – but it is CERTAINLY an earlier version of the same idea. She often repeats similar hat shapes in different colours and materials so this makes sense!

      Jimbo- I KNEW you’d be up for the challenge!

  2. That black calot was better without the red flowers! The hat I’m most interested to see closeup is the straw one behind the red flowered black calot. It looks like a big straw sunhat edged in black and the brim is almost a pyrimid shape but the top is a dome instead of a point. Any idea where/when she wore that one?

    HatQueen you show many of Queen Elizabeth’s hats from the 1970s and 1980s maybe you could include more of Queen Margrethe’s?

    • I would love to show more of Queen Margrethe’s hats from the past but unfortunately, there are very few in public archives. I’ll continue to search!

      I looked high and low for that natural straw hat with black brim edging in action but no luck so far.

  3. The hat from Charles & Diana’s wedding does look a bit worse for wear but I love the colour and the shape. It stands out even in 1981! These posts have been wonderful. Thank you.

    • Yes, that’s the winner for me. And that black and red one with the lattice crown just because it’s a bit bonkers!

      These posts were brilliant!

  4. I never realized Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik went to Chuck and Di’s wedding but of course! All the European kings & queens would have gone. I love to see the closeup of her hat. It even looks different compared to all the other early 1980s. She’s a fashion trailblazer following the beat of her own drum. Gotta love that.

    Are there any photos of Queen Margrethe wearing that black and red hat with the woven top? That one looks amazing.

    • That black and red hat is really creative but I’d like to see how it looks on!

      These were excellent posts. Thank you so much.

  5. Thanks very much for these posts, most enjoyable. I was particularly interested to see the make over the black calot had, it isn’t actually a great deal more than changing the trim which we notice not infrequently on royal hats, but because the red flowers are so eye-catching, it seems like a more substantial revamp. The pale blue hat seems to have suffered in storage a bit – it looks noticeably dented in a way I don’t see on the others – perhaps a function of the thinness of the straw?

  6. Thanks again Inger for another great look at this exhibit!

    I agree that many of these hats would benefit from accompanying photos showing them in action, or even better, having the outfit on display with them if possible; sometimes a hat just sitting there doesn’t do much until someone puts it on to wear it (I say this with a lot of experience selling hats for 6 1/2 years). The pale blue hat from Charles and Diana’s wedding is a lovely hat, although I would’ve thought the side with the elongated brim would’ve been on her right side and not her left, so that was interesting to see.

    I really enjoy these guest posts to get different insights from my fellow readers and fellow hat lovers. Hope to hear from more of you in the future!

    • I agree. These guests posts are always so interesting. I don’t know enough to write one but I sure enjoy when others do.

  7. Thanks from me, too, Inger! I’ve never considered how the weight and bulk of the royal accoutrements (I almost said “stuff,” but that doesn’t sound very royal!) have to be accommodated in gowns. That gold gown in gorgeous and so regal.

    That black hat with the woven red strips caught my eye as having a very Daisy look. And how wonderful to see the photos of the queen wearing the displayed hats.

  8. I love love love the cream boater! Also that red hat box is divine! I also love the gray fur with pink dress. So interesting to see Margrethe at the Royal Wedding ’81. I also see a few other royals I can now identify – so fun! Great post!

    • That large cream hat is absolutely gorgeous! She could wear that today and fit right with the times! Large boater hats seem to be making a comeback.

      I have just loved these 2 posts. Thank you to Inger and to HatQueen. I now have a much better understanding of Queen Margrethe’s hat style.

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