Hats From the Past

Royal Hats With this year’s Order of the Garter procession just a week away, here is a look back to Garter Days in 1913 and 1948. The British royals take tradition seriously- no surprise that in 116 years, the ceremonial hats have not changed!

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Today is Garter Day! This annual event celebrates the Order of the Garter - the senior British Order of Chivalry, that was founded by King Edward III in 1348. The 'founder knights' of the Order were military men, skilled in battle and tournament.  The saint chosen to be their patron was St George – already the patron saint of soldiers - who still appears on the insignia today. Since its creation, generations of members of the Royal Family have been appointed to the Order, always with the Monarch as its 'Sovereign'. This photograph from @royal_collection_trust shows George V and Queen Mary in the distinctive Garter Robes at Garter Day in 1913. Follow the link in our bio to read more.

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Photo from The Royal Collection Trust and British Monarchy

9 thoughts on “Hats From the Past

  1. Thank you for the photos – the one from 1911 is particularly clear . It seems to me that the plumes of all participants have been reduced in size since then. However, the Prince of Wales´ plumes in 1911 are overwhelming, as is his faux-medieval costume: Just look at the breeches and the pumps. Poor Edward: I wonder why he had to wear such an obvious costume when the King and Queen were dressed in normal attire under their capes?

    • I believe it was because David was being invested with the order so, special outfit referencing King Charles II. Also, there were political reasons for investing David at that point and Queen Mary was very interested in protical and history. I don,t ‘know’: It is what I believe from what I read.

      • That makes sense- I don’t believe a special outfit is worn by new investitures these days. King Willem-Alexander is being added this year and the thought of him in such an ensemble has me in giggles!

        Thanks, Jimbo, for these additional photos of Kings Edward VII and VIII.

        • I really enjoy seeing all these vintage photos. This blog is so interesting not only for the current hats but all the historical ones! Thanks HQ.

          And thanks for the mental image of King W-A in those white ruffled pantaloons. It’s going to take me all night to get that out of my mind!

  2. HQ, these are great photos, even the surprisingly clear one from 1911. Since you have the two Georges covered, I was wondering about the two Edwards. I found a portrait of Edward VII on his wedding day, and one of Edward VIII, king for only one year in 1936, the year of three kings. I hope these are of interest to the history buffs out there.
    Embed from Getty Images

  3. The Garter pageant was reintroduced in 1911 (2 years prior to the first pic shown above) after a century-long cessation, according to http://www.thecourtjeweller.com/2016/06/jewel-history-investiture-of-prince-of.html which states that 1911 was the first time the pageant had been held since the reign of George III (who died in 1820). So I wonder if this year’s royal participants are wearing the same hats worn by the royals in 1911– and whether the royal hats and robes used in the 1911 pageant were already over 100 years old, or new.
    I suspect there may be one cap which has indeed changed since 1911. The hat of the Prince of Wales in 1911 seems grander than those of other Garter holders, sporting no less than 4 ostrich plumes. However, I don’t recall seeing anything like such an explosion of plumes being worn by the current Prince of Wales in recent times. The POW feathers seem more in line with those on the other caps in the parade, which seem to bear one, or at the most 2, plumes.
    The white rosettes on the shoulders of the 1911 robes also seems to have disappeared somewhere along the line:
    Embed from Getty Images
    And a pic of the hat in action. The extra plumes make it look so tall! https://www.rct.uk/sites/default/files/styles/rctr-scale-1300-500/public/collection-online/e/8/708022-1504173510.jpg?itok=c2AMdnmc
    A better perspective::
    https://www.rct.uk/sites/default/files/styles/rctr-scale-1300-500/public/collection-online/5/c/707487-1504001624.jpg?itok=4RkUMIzs

    • I would think that the hats are made for each wearer. If not, I hope a new lining is put in before it is passed on. With all of the various products used on hair over the years, the lining could get kind of nasty. As to the maker, I remembered seeing a company holding a royal warrant for robes so I took a look through the Royal Warrant Holders Association website. Ede and Ravenscroft hold warrants from QEII, the DOE and the POW for robes. My guess would be the hats and robes come from them. By the way, a scroll through the RWHA directory is a really interesting read.

      • Hi Sue, great work with identifying the royal robemaker, Ede and Ravenscroft. I just had a look at their website, the ceremonial dress section. Fascinating!

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