British Royals In New Hats For Commonwealth Day

Members of the British Royal Family celebrated their wider Commonwealth family today, attending the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey today as they have in years past. The Queen led her family in her repeated her royal purple felt hat with square crown, upfolded kettle brim and dark purple velvet hatband with updated dark purple silk flower trim.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

It’s good to see the updated trim in closer detail here- the purple silk flowers create a more refined overall look that ties beautifully with the coat’s velvet trim and the starkness the former white irises gave to the look has disappeared.

UPDATE: Looking at this hat side by side with its original version, it seemed that more was changed than just the trim but confirmation from the hatmaker herself that the crown height is unchanged leaves me cursing at camera angles and the optical illusions they seem to have created here.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Designer: Angela Kelly. Made by Stella McLaren
Previously Worn: Jan 13, 2019; Oct 23, 2018Mar 6, 2018Dec 7, 2017Nov 24, 2016

The Duchess of Cornwall was also in royal purple with a new, brimless hat. The helmet shape, with gently rounded edges, is trimmed with purple goose biot feathers.

Embed from Getty Images

We see Camilla in so many wide brimmed hats and it’s great to see her play with a brimless shape, particularly one as unusual as this. Is it my favourite design on her? No- I’m not a fan of its clunky mushroom shape but the colour is divine and the spiky feathers play down the helmet vibe well. Combined with Camilla’s stunning velvet coat, the overall look is rather regal- perhaps a case of ‘coat saves hat’ here?

Embed from Getty Images

Designer: Philip Treacy. Bruce Oldfield dress and coat.
Previously Worn: This hat is new

The Duchess of Cambridge topped her red coat with a new felt raised saucer hat, simply trimmed with a stitched bow on the side. While it seems like a fine hat, the more I look at it, the less I like it. The bow, while beautifully stitched, errs a little toward twee territory and the design forces placement smack on the middle of the head, which doesn’t always pair well with Kate’s oval face. Maybe I just prefer the pillbox originally worn with this coat?

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Designer: I suspect custom Lock & Co. Coat by Catherine Walker. 
Previously Worn: This hat is new

The Duchess of Sussex topped her cream and green floral dress and cream coat with a cream pillbox/Fez. It’s the first hat of this shape we’ve seen on Meghan and while the colour contrasted beautifully against her hair, I’m less certain about the sharply angular lines of the hat, particularly with this ensemble. Something here, between the crisp hat, the textured coat and the flowing dress, feels out of balance. Too much cream, perhaps? Maybe a spray of green silk flowers and feathers on one side of this hat would do the trick?

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Designer: Other blogs are reporting it as a Jane Taylor felt design but a close look at the hat shows it is covered in fabric with a very fine textured stripe so I think it’s a bespoke design. Coat and dress by Victoria Beckham.
Previously Worn: This hat is new
These types of royal events, which trot out a parade of hats, are always enjoyable to see (and what a great kickoff to the Cheltenham races this week!)
Embed from Getty Images
Photos from Getty as indicated

33 thoughts on “British Royals In New Hats For Commonwealth Day

  1. Here is the link to BBC live coverage for the event….with quite extensive coverage of the royals arrivals and procession.

    HatQueen is right on the mark with comments on the hats of the D’s of C and S….certainly not awful, but not quite what they might be with some small tweaks (perhaps they will board the remodel train at some point?).

    HM in the “rethought” (seems more extensive than her typical remodel which are often barely perceptible) purple looks great, there seems to be plenty of contrast and presence with the new trims even though tone on tone, it reads nicely on video, and more elegant in shape/less clunky than the original version.

    Camilla’s hat is even more wonderful from all sides and in motion….So interesting to see the crown, and that the feathers have a bit of a wrap rather than just a ‘pouff’ as it seemed to read in the still photos. Hopefully she will explore this sort of hat a bit more.

    Unfortunately, the Prime Minister just looked a bit silly overall and not particularly well put together.

    There have been some wonderful observations and sleuthing in the comments here, thank you all for such a lively discussion!

  2. The Queen’s hat is nice – but I feel the trim has now become too close in colour and is hardly visible (I never minded the irises). Camilla has changed her hat shape, yay, and this is a good colour and size but the raised shoulders on her coat sleeves ruin what is otherwise a lovely garment (and I’ve never understood her love of decorative flaps on her hips). The Duchess of Cambridge looks lovely and the bow isn’t really terrible – love the photo where William appears to be giving it a funny look. As so often happens for me, I don’t understand what the Duchess of Sussex was trying to do with her hat and outfit. I daresay she’ll sort it out in due course.

  3. A day of good hats, thanks for the fun discussion. Meghan’s hat had a kind of ethnic feel to it for me, and all I could think of was a fez. But when I looked up African hats, there were a lot of pictures of fabric hats in that shape sometimes called Kufi hats worn by both men and women. They seem to be worn farther forward, however, and that might have improved Meghan’s wearing too, if it was more forward. Whether it was meant to have an ethnic reference or not, it works as a streamlined, modern take on a pillbox. I would have liked it made in the same gorgeous textured fabric as the coat and a bit shorter, but that’s my taste.

  4. Interesting back shot of the Duchess of Sussex’s hat. It appears to have a seam around the top of the crown- something a fabric covered hat would need (to attach the sides to the crown. A felt hat would be formed in a single piece). I hoped it would be a bit more attractive from this angle but I’m afraid it’s not.

  5. Fairbanks suggested the possibility of a rear seam on HM’s renovated purple hat. The following rear shot shows no seam, since felt wouldn’t need it, I’m guessing. Since the crown is plainly one continuous piece of material without the top and sides sewn together, (such as the obvious stitching in the crown on the orange hat last week,) is it safe to assume that the entire brim was removed in order to shorten the crown? A lot of work, eh?

    • Sorry, forgot the rear shot. Is Theresa May on board with the iris trim?
      October 23, 2018
      Embed from Getty Images

      • As the vast majority of HM’s hat seem to be pieced together, I would imagine the crown and the brim are two separate pieces instead of one large piece of velour felt, thus making it easier to shorten the crown.

        I wish Theresa May would’ve repeated that hat rather than the one she wore yesterday; yesterday’s was not flattering at all for her:
        Embed from Getty Images

    • Good sleuthing! The hat is clearly made of felt. Theresa May seems to find life distasteful, understandable maybe.
      Bespoke hats are made in two parts, crown and brim are made separately and a fitting takes place before the two are sewn together. In order to shorten the crown, the trimming would be removed, then the crown and brim taken apart. The crown would be shortened (not complicated in case of a straight sided model as this one), and sewn back onto the brim. New hatband, new trimming and … presto!
      A lot of work certainly, but worth it with a hat made of good quality hair felt.

  6. Always a treat to see a service or other occasion with lots of hats to discuss! Thanks for all the information, HatQueen.

    I love purple, but apart from that, this hat of the Queen’s, either previously or now, is not my favourite. I don’t like the finicky current trim, although I agree the previous trim was perhaps a bit too contrasting in colour. And I’m just not fond of that brim shape.

    I love the Duchess of Cornwall’s hat. Both hat and suit look like a bright royal blue on my monitor, with purple feathers on the hat. Whatever, it’s a lovely colour. I think this is a good shape, at least from a distance. It has both presence and interest.

    I rather like the Duchess of Cambridge’s hat, although I do think it would benefit from being worn slightly more tilted right and forward, as she more usually wears these smaller hats, as it would suit her better, and I think that would work as it would elevate the bow a little.

    I can certainly see the nurse’s vibe about the Duchess of Sussex’s hat, although actually I think it goes very well with the whole outfit, and looks polished. Perhaps if it were in a different colour? Black? That would look sophisticated without anyone thinking “hospital”!

  7. I approve of HM’s refurbed hat, it looks more cohesive this time around. And the velvet hat band proves my point about the blue hat with the fur brim as they are both the same shape. I think Camilla’s hat is a bit bulbous and I want to flip the feathers around so they lay differently, but it’s nice to see her in a different hat shape. Kate’s red hat is nice too and a tried & true style for her. I would have put the bow on the back though. White hats don’t always read “nurse” to me, but there is something about Meghan’s hat that is not quite right. It’s too tall? I think she would look great in a calot style, like the one that Mette-Marit often wears on the back of her head. This hat should be that hat.

  8. Where were the minor royals eg Yorkie sisters, Zara, Peter and Autumn phillips, Alexandra, duke and duchess of Kent? Thought some of them would have made an effort with it being the 70th anniversary.

    Good to see all of the others there though 🙂

  9. changes to the crown makes a difference to the Queen’s hat, I prefer the slightly lower crown, though I am not a fan of the brim, it makes it a bit chunky.
    Camilla she can rock almost any shape of hat,
    Kate’s hat complements her ensemble, I think I would prefer it a bit more askew
    Meghan’s hat well…. I agree with the other comments

  10. As this is often said to be one of HM’s favorite events of the year, and with it being the 70th anniversary, I would’ve thought a new hat, or something worn less often, would’ve been in order, so seeing this often-repeated one was kind of disappointing.

    Camilla did NOT disappoint me, however, and I absolutely love this new hat for her! Great color and an unexpected shape that works well with her hairstyle. My favorite of the day; brava!

    For Kate, I would’ve preferred a repeat of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee red disc hat by Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co.
    Embed from Getty Images
    This isn’t a bad hat for Kate, but it’s kinda boring, especially with nothing on the front of the hat.

    Unfortunately Meghan’s was my least favorite hat of the day. After seeing other comments on how it looks like a nurse’s cap, I can’t unsee it. Also, when I saw this from the side, it reminded me of a fez more than a pillbox, but not in a flattering way for her. It’s unfortunate because her outfit is beautiful, but the hat ruins the look. I think her olive hat from Louis’ christening ( has the potential to be a great alternative choice to go with this outfit.

    Considering this seemed to be a big year for this service, the hat choices overall were not as good as previous years IMO (especially last year), and also why were there so few royals in attendance compared to last year?

    • I don’t know if the Diamond Jubilee hat would work with this coat, Jake. That hat seems more of a tomato red while this coat is more of a cherry red. Saying this now makes me realize I need to compliment the milliner on an excellent job custom dyeing the felt on this hat. It’s a perfect match with the coat.

  11. The alteration to the Queen’s hat, as discussed in January, is a marked improvement. I think this purple now is one of the Queen’s best outfits in the current rotation. And purple is a favorite color, both for its symbolic mourning and for its being a flattering color for the Queen. (I presume there’s a seam in the back of that hat, though.)
    The Duchess of Cornwall’s new purple is fantastic too. It’s a different style.
    The only hat I’m not pleased with is the Duchess of Sussex’s. It does rather resemble nurses’ hats. If it’s covered with a very fine stripe, that stripe doesn’t show in photographs. As he Queen has learned, that’s what matters: not what it actually is but what it looks like.

  12. I approve of the changes to the Queen’s hat; the second version is my favorite. I like the hat selected by the Duchess of Cambridge and it’s just as attractive on her as the first one she wore with the red coat. The Duchess of Sussex looked lovely but I agree with some previous comments about her pillbox looking like a nurse’s cap. Maybe if the scale was adjusted and it was reshaped slightly I’d love it. Now, let me say that I ADORE the hat worn by the Duchess of Cornwall! It’s unique, simple but rich in its color and design. I can’t stop looking at those wonderful feathers. I’m sure they flutter beautifully in the wind. I want that hat!!!!!!

  13. What an interesting hat on the Duchess of Cambridge! A bit peculiar when seen from nearby, but well proportioned when viewed from a distance.
    I’d love to get my hands on it to get a closer look. There must be a second crown on the inside, or a bonnet like shape.

  14. I prefer the red pillbox on Catherine with that buttonful coat. Of course she wore the pillbox when she arrived in New Zealand and I loved everything she wore when she came to visit us. I got to see her and Wills on their last public appearance on that tour. It was very exciting to have them with us.

  15. I’m disagreeing here, as I prefer this new hat on Catherine to the original. I like the bow and the shaping of the saucer. I’m not much of a fan of pillboxes, although Meghan’s large size one is better than a tiny one.
    The final picture of Camilla’s hat is the best – I believe this is a hat that looks best from ground level, as someone standing near her, rather than viewed from above.
    I prefer HM’s renovated look to the original contrast trim. On both senior ladies, purple is a lovely colour, especially with the tonal trim.

  16. The purple color is lovely on the Duchess of Cornwall, but I agree that this hat is slightly helmet-esque. It looks better from a distance, and the coat is divine.

    I actually like the red hat on the Duchess of Cambridge; it’s got a slightly Edwardian air that I think she carries well.

    The Duchess of Sussex’s hat unfortunately looks like a nurse’s cap! It seems a bit too small and is pushed too far back, and I’m not sure the severe center part works will the pillbox shape here.

    • Nurse’s cap is exactly what I was thinking too. It’s a plain colour, a plain shape, a plain texture – perhaps just a bit too plain all round. But good on her for trying something new – and the Dss of Cornwall too! Her hat’s a bit odd, perhaps, but it looks fun and the colour’s grand.

    • I totally agree that the Duchess of Sussex’s white pillbox veers very sharply into the nurse’s cap territory. It really is quite distracting. The Queen’s hat looks much much better with this trim. I don’t care for anything they Duchess if Cornwall is wearing except to say that I like the colour, and I like velvet. The hat looks too large, and the sleeves of the coat are very dated. And, to be different, I prefer this red hat on the Duchess of Cambridge to the pillbox.

      • Nurse’s cap is a good description and I just figured out why- the back of the hat is shorter and the gentle curve on the size (taking the hat from the full size in front to the shorter back) mimics that of a nurse’s cap. And good point- the severely parted hair doesn’t help this hat look less clinical!

        • Love the dark flowers on the Queen’s update. But I get a serious vibe of ‘Cherry Ames Student Nurse’ from the DoSussex…

        • Even if no feathers or flowers, a less subtle pattern, perhaps mimicking the pattern on the dress, would have made it seem less nurse-like.

          (Loved the Cherry Ames comment!)

  17. HM’s hat has had a total renovation. Shrinking the crown is a lot to do. I much prefer the tonal flower though I’d like to see other hats in the rotation a bit more, bit bored of seeing this one so much.

    Camilla’s new outfit is fabulous. Love it. The hat is quite big, but her hair balances it.
    I hoped Kate would repeat this coat again, but like you, I prefer the previous pillbox.

    And Meghan; I like it. It’s a big pillbox for sure, but it looks fab in her updo and it’s nice to see her in a different shape.

  18. I’m so excited for this post- I saw the pictures on IG a little while ago and couldn’t wait for the hat discussion. I love love love the DoCornwall’s hat here. The unique shape, the fabulous trim, and the vibrant color are really great. I think this is another hat that benefits from her hairstyle. I love seeing her in new and interesting hat shapes and she carries this off beautifully.

    The DoSussex looks great! I love seeing her try out more varied millinery. My very first thought is that this hat looks very old school nurse-like from the front; I think largely due to the height and lack of trim. But when viewed from the side I feel like it has a really graceful shape. I don’t think adding trim to it would necessarily help; I really like the simplicity. But perhaps reducing the height in the front would help. I love the idea of a plain pillbox for the DoSussex, and overall think she looks fabulous here.

    The DoCam and the Queen both look wonderful too though I find their hats fairly unmemorable.

    • Shannon, you summed that up very nicely!

      At first glance, I did not like the pillbox on the Duchess of Sussex. It just looked “off” on her. Then I saw it from the side, and loved it. The hat itself is gorgeous and the streamlined simplicity “should” work on her, but maybe it’s too boxy for her? Maybe a fuller hairstyle would work better, or have her hair down? I do agree that perhaps the front height should be reduced. Her two outfits today were perfection.

      I do like the hat on the Duchess of Cambridge, in particular the bow on the side. Like everyone else, the pillbox she wore with the outfit before was lovely and I miss it.

      I looooved the Duchess of Cornwall’s hat. It’s bonkers and lovely at the same time. I enjoy how she goes bold with hats, and exudes such confidence. The color is so gorgeous – very luxurious.

      Her Majesty looks perfect (as always). I do like the changes to the hat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s