Ascot Hats From the Past

Royal Hats105 years ago to June 17, 1914. The late Duchess of Devonshire, Evelyn Cavendish (wife of the 9th Duke of Devonshire) is shown below at Royal Ascot, just a month before the outbreak of WWI, in a marvelously plumed black hat. 97 years later, her great grandson’s wife, the current Duchess of Devonshire, would present the day’s winnings and chat all things racing with the Queen in a turquoise straw hat with feathers and a silk bow.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

In your discussion about this pair of century-separated hats, please also include any royal hats worn around the world today. I’ll check in with you all in the comments as I’m able!

Photos from Getty as indicated

15 thoughts on “Ascot Hats From the Past

  1. Hi Jimbo, nice story! I love to read about hats in history. This blog entry about Duchess Georgiana http://georgianaduchessofdevonshire.blogspot.com/2009/01/picture-hat.html suggests you are right in seeing a connection between the 1785 hat (which the then Duchess of Devonshire designed herself)– and Edwardian hats with ostrich feathers, which were apparently known as “Gainsborough” hats.
    I also didn’t know that the term “picture hat” originated from the original Gainsborough portrait of the Duchess, (which the engraving you’ve posted is based on) because people used to speak of it as ” the hat in the picture”. Fascinating.

    • Mcncln, thanks for the link, – do you realize it’s a 10 year old article?!? All that Devonshire hat is missing is/are the dangling wine corks, eh?
      Have a nice weekend “down under” – spring is finally in the air here.
      PS Are we considered “up over?”

      • “Up over”- a novel phrase to my ears, but why not?
        Spring is always welcome – but so is our southern hemisphere autumn, which I’m enjoying now after a rather brutal summer
        I’m noting with some trepidation that female Aussie celebrities at the races are all sporting fancy headbands and bows, a la Scandinavian monarchies.Even though I like headbands, I pray that the headband fad will not gain any more traction re the upcoming racing season for our European royals; however I fear that Eugenie and Beatrice are already a lost cause. We shall see…

      • Another from the No Hat Comment Zone — Jimbo, I love your coined phrase “up over” as a corollary to “down under”! In most of the US, if you travel to a coastal area that contains lots of sand, you are going “to the beach”, but in the state of New Jersey, where I am originally from, for some reason you go “down the shore”. I think you go down the shore even if you’re south of the beach area and are technically going up, but I’ll have to look into that. I really enjoy learning about odd twists of phrase that pertain to particular areas.

  2. Maybe the large plumage in both of the Devonshire hats shown above is a trademark of sorts – Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire blazed the trail over 200 years ago, and the engraving below, based on a painting of Gainsborough, is proof of the pudding! Imagine getting in and out of different modes of transportaion while wearing that beauty!
    Embed from Getty Images

    • Funny to see the plumage carrying over into the 21st century, even in a reduced form.

      The Cavendish name always makes me think of Adele Astaire, who left her brother without a dance partner when she married a younger son of the Duchess in the 1914 photo.

      • Here in the No Hat Comment Zone: Extraordinary, MittenMary, that you would mention the Astaires: just the other night we watched the 1951 movie “Royal Wedding” with Fred Astaire and Jane Powell playing dance partner siblings, which was part of a tribute to the director legend Stanley Donen. I read somewhere how they actually did the song with Fred dancing on the walls and ceiling – cool stuff for 1951! Happy Friday, hat loving friend.

        • Jimbo, while I know most of the great MGM musicals inside out, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Royal Wedding except for that scene. I’ll have to get to it soon. The dancing is so good that you forget what a technical achievement it was.

          Happy Friday back to you!

    • Hi Jimbo, I enjoyed your comment as always; you can see my reply further on in the main comments section (where I oops placed it by accident).

  3. I have a quick question. Photos from several years ago frequently show the Queen wearing glasses, but it seems she does not wear them as often now. Did she have corrective eye surgery, or does she wear contacts?

    • I’m certain the Queen had eye surgery. For a period of time she was frequently seen in dark glasses and I read that she had surgery.

    • She had cataract surgery a little while ago. I don’t know whether this is why she no longer wears glasses but I no longer need them after cataract surgery, having worn them full time since the age of 8/

  4. I LOVE the Duchess of Devonshire’s hat and am guessing it’s a Philip Treacy design. Anyone else agree that the large scale, upswept brim and signature looped bows are hallmarks of his work? It’s also coincidental that she and HM are wearing the same color! Lovely, just beautiful IMO

    • While it’s a beautiful hat, it doesn’t have the Treacy look about it at all. If I had to guess a milliner I’m familiar with, I’d say this looks more like a Dillon Wallwork hat, but I’m not totally convinced it’s his either. Much like many of Princess Anne’s newer hats, I’m afraid we won’t know the designer of this one.

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