Over the late summer and early fall, we undertook a quest to identify Queen Elizabeth’s most iconic hats. Through much searching and discussion, we narrowed down hats worn over eight decades to a few that are “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.” It’s interesting- some hats were nominated as iconic for the events they attended, while others for the merit (or memorability) of their design. Despite some difficulties with subjectivity and definition, there were 34 hats that received consensus as deserving of this ‘iconic’ label:
Red velvet bow trimmed bonnet with black veil at Prince Charles’ Christening Dec 15, 1948
Blue folded-brim calot with tulle ruffle for Princess Anne’s christening Oct 21, 1950
Feather trimmed brimmless black hat worn for her return to London from Kenya as Queen, Feb 7, 1952
Black-crinoline brimmed hat trimmed with red and green ostrich feathers worn Feb 1, 1954 in Sydney
Blue veiled headpiece with silk flowers designed by Norman Hartnell for Princess Margaret’s wedding, May 7, 1960
The memorable “yellow spaghetti” hat by Simone Mirman worn May 27, 1965 on a visit to Germany
The yellow silk Tudor snood with pearls by Simone Mirman worn for the July 1, 1969 investiture of the Prince of Wales
Blue silk and feather hat by Simone Mirman on November 20, 1972 for her 25th wedding anniversary
Royal blue silk turban with purple lace by Simone Mirman at Princess Anne’s wedding Nov 14, 1973
Pink Simone Mirman turban with swinging bell flowers for the 1976 Olympics and June 7, 1977 Silver Jubilee
Stitched green tam hat with feather trim worn to the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 1980
Ian Thomas designed sky blue silk crepe turban with chiffon flowers worn July 29, 1981 for the Wales’ wedding
Ruched turban in dotted blue silk organdie by Frederick Fox worn for Prince William’s christening August 4, 1982
Blue silk crepe hat with chiffon flowers by Ian Thomas worn for the York’s wedding in July 1986
Double brimmed purple felt hat worn for a memorable visit to the Great Wall of China on October 14, 1986
Blue Philip Somerville hat (made by Dillon Wallwork) with chevron striped bows worn Oct 17, 1988 in Spain
The purple straw boater with white stripes worn on May 14, 1991 at the White House in Washington, DC
The dark teal velvet “Annus Horribilis” hat worn for a Nov 24, 1992 speech at Guildhall in London
Wide brimmed black Bretton hat worn to return to London from Scotland on Sep 5, 1997
Triangular shaped bumper hat with silk bow worn to the Princess of Wales’ funeral on Sep 6, 2018
The brimless, stacked accordion hat by Marie O’Reagan worn Dec 11, 1997 to decommission Britannia
Purple feather halo headpiece by Frederick Fox for the July 19, 1999 wedding of the Wessexes
Purple sideswept hat by Philip Somerville with green feathers worn to open Scottish Parliament, July 1, 1999
Black square crowned cloche with silk folded hatband and feathers worn to the funerals of her mother and sister in 2002
Blue basket-wwoven hat by Frederick Fox worn in in Botswana in 1998 and the Golden Jubilee, June 4, 2002
White ruched crown Philip Somerville hat with black bow and straw brim worn in Slovakia in 2008 and on April 25, 2015
Philip Somerville’s ‘pink swirl’ silk picture hat worn to Oman in 2010 and Ascot in June 2011
Blue straw ‘Union Jack hat’ with red piped bow by Rachel Trevor Morgan worn in 2011 and April 2015
Yellow silk crepe boater with flowers and velvet leaves by Angela Kelly worn April 29, 2011 for the Cambridge’s wedding
White hat with upswept, ruched silk brim by Angela Kelly worn for the June 3, 2012 Diamond Jubilee Thames Flotilla
Seafoam textured silk hat by Angela Kelly worn June 5, 2012 Diamond Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving
Blue silk crepe covered ‘Wedgwood’ hat with lace trim by Angela Kelly first worn June 25, 2012 in Norther Ireland
Peach feathered ‘Bond Girl’ fascinator by Angela Kelly worn for the July 27, 2012 opening of the London Olympics
The ‘EU flag’ blue hat with yellow centered flowers first worn June 21, 2017 for the state opening of parliament
It’s incredibly difficult to narrow down several hundreds (thousands?) of hats worn over eight decades but I think you have done and excellent job with this group. Numerous hats here are known by a nickname (surely a sight of distinctive excellence!) or by naming the event they were worn to. I’m curious, dearest readers- what do you think of your list? Are there hats here you don’t think should be included? Is there are particular hat you think has been unfairly omitted?
Photos from Getty as indicated Photo: AP; Camera Press; V&A Images; Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Alamy; DPA: Reginal Davis/Rex Features; Fox Photos, and Hulton Archive via Getty; Douglas Kirkland/Corbis; Serge Lemoine, Princess Diana Archive, Tim Graham, Tim Graham, Tim Graham, Tim Graham, Anwar Hussein, Joel Robine, Julian Parker, John Shelley Collection/Avalon, Hulton Royals Collection, Tim Graham, Ian Waldie, PA Images, Tim Graham, Tim Graham, Max Mumby/Indigo, Samir Hussein, Max Mumby/Indigo, Chris Jackson, Bethany Clark/Stringer, Max Mumby/Indigo, John Stillwell, Carl Court
I think this must be a good selection to fulfill the “iconic” brief, in that virtually all these hats are ones that are familiar to me, and often ones I recognise in terms of occasion etc, even though a number pre-date my birth. It’s certainly been a fascinating exercise – many thanks.
Interesting, in that it covers most of the big personal events of her life. I’m interested in the 25th wedding anniversary hat… maybe not iconic but does anyone know what she wore to the 40th/50th/60th wedding anniversaries?
Also the Australian hat from 1954 is one of my all time favourites. How do we know he colours of it, id love to see a colour photo!
Dd, here is Queen Elizabeth on November 20, 1997, her 5oth Wedding Anniversary:
Embed from Getty Images
Among the guests was Queen Fabiola, wearing an interesting headpiece.
Embed from Getty Images
The Sydney Morning Herald (February 19, 1954) described HM’s hat as follows:
“Her black hat was of two layers of nylon crinoline straw, and pressed between the layers were flat bunches of ostrich feathers in vivid scarlet, emerald green, and pale blue. As they caught the sun the colours looked like brilliant blobs on an artist’s palette.”
I found another photo, unfortunately not color, but taken from a different angle. (HQ, I hope this link is acceptable; as of late I’ve had cold feet when posting from sources other than Getty. Apologies if this is not good.)
It’s fine- there are so few good photos of this hat. I’d love to see a colour one myself!
Such a shame as it’s so nice and lovely to see Fabiola… thank you
At we get the colors from the written description and a view of the translucent brim. “Weeping women,” wow! Can any of our Aussie friends comment on whether this report was overly dramatized?
Thanks for posting these, Jimbo!
Jimbo have you by any chance tried the New South Wales archives ? Australia are terrific at putting all their stuff on line from military service papers to Royal visits 😐 I’m a techno duck but I thought maybe you could get some answers ! Just a thought !
Nonie, I have tried in vain to find anything. I wonder if Mcncln, who lives in Sydney, would possibly have access to archival materials down under. Maybe Government House, where the garden party took place, has some information. I’ve unearthed one other photo from that garden party, but alas, it is blurry, and HM is shown in the distance. This mystery hat is probably tucked in the rear of her closet, collecting cob webs! So sorry to fail you!
Oh Jimbo ! You certainly didn’t fail … you’re the bright spark on this site who always comes up with “the goods” 😊😊😊 I just thought the archives might be of use to you !
Thank you, HatQueen, for pulling together this fascinating poll. While these aren’t all the most beautiful hats the Queen has worn, they seem so quintessentially her!
What an interesting and representative gallery of important “iconic” hats. Chapeau Queen Elizabeth for your steadfast promotion of hat wearing, chapeau milliners and chapeau HatQueen for collating this marvelous collection..
The Wedgewood hat continues to perplex me and I don’t understand how it’s iconic for so many people, but I guess I am in the minority. A good list, but it features so much blue, which makes me a bit sad more colors aren’t represented (I would’ve included the Day-Glo green Trooping hat by RTM as it launched a thousand memes haha).
This series of discussions was fabulous and I learned a lot from my fellow commenters. Thanks to everyone, especially HatQueen for facilitating!
All of these hats are great ! … but my very favourite is the ‘Spaghetti Hat’ – I love that hat and she was so brave and clever to wear it !! 😊😊😊
I think you will find that the pink hat with bells at the back is a Freddie fox hat.
Anyone agree with me?
Hi Peggy, this post will explain how I confirmed it’s a Simone Mirman.
Peggy … can you tell us HOW you know this is a Freddie Fox ? – you were involved with the last post regarding this hat and it seems you’re adamant that it is – please tell us why you think it is one of Freddie’s – you said you worked for him – did you actually SEE something ? being the nosy person I am – I’m fascinated to know what it was like working with him it must have been quite an experience !! 😊
Oh I really like so many of the early ones…remember most of them. The early hats in general seem more ” relaxed” than present day. Wish her designs would revert back to the earlier ons at least a bit.
Although I don’t find it attractive, the most iconic hat for me is the yellow silk worn to the investiture of Prince Charles. Everyone knows this hat (partly because it’s so unattractive, I’m afraid).
I think the prettiest of the hats above are these four:
1. purple Sommerville worn to the opening of the Scottsh parliament, t
2. hat with green chiffon hatband worn to the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving service
3. black and white Summerville first worn in Slovakia in 2008 and
4. black brimmed, red and green worn in Australia in 1954
All hats above, however, are iconic in that they all remind one instantly of Queen Elizabeth.
Wies, an ABC London article from June, 2018 stated that HM has worn +/-5000 hats in the last 50 years. That’s an average of 100 hats per year, with no repeats! That is a very generous guesstimate, don’t you agree?
Here’s an interesting Friday Fun-Fact article, written in 2016. Most of the information is not new, but still interesting.
Thank you Jimbo for an interesting article, I really enjoyed it!
Thank you for the article Jimbo, good reading! I agree with you that 5000 hats seems a bit exaggerated. With a hundred hats a year Queen Elisabeth would keep the British hat industry alive pretty much on her own (which in a way, she does!)
What a great retrospective. I enjoyed sorting through everything this summer and seeing everyone’s comments. My favorites, mostly based on aesthetics are:
1. The spaghetti hat. I just love love love this.
2. The pink swirl hat from Ascot 2011
3. The purple feather fascinator from the wessex wedding (so jubilant and so rare for her to wear a fascinator, and more peppy than the olympics fascinator).
My runners up, (for sentiment plus aesthetics)
4. The bonnet from Prince Charles Christening. For me this is the epitome of “Princess Elizabeth”
5. The black from Princess Diana’s funeral
The best hat EVER is the pink swirl! I LOVE IT…LOVE IT…LOVE IT!!!!!!
My least favorite is the Diamond Jubilee white hat as it has always looked out of balance and I just have no love for it at all.
A fabulous selection and I am on board with practically every one! Are you planning a poll… that would be fun to see which one comes out in top!?
For me; no contest. The beautiful delphinium blue from the York wedding.
great selection! you should write a book about the hats of QEII
What a fantastic gallery of hats! Is it too bold to say that Q E II is the monarch, or even the lady who has worn the greatest number of hats on earth? Or at least, hats recorded by fotographers?
I think you did a beautiful job HatQueen! I leave it to others to comment on what hats should be added to this roll of honour – I am not familiar enough with Her Majesty’s wardrobe during her long reign.