Hat Quandry At Polo

While we’re waiting for today’s events to be underway at Royal Ascot, I have a hat quandary for you to ponder.

Last Sunday, the Queen attended the Queen’s Cup Polo Final at the Guard’s Club in Windsor. She wore, what at a very quick glance, I thought was a much admired, repeated coral pink hat trimmed with a distinctive straw rose.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Because I’m a bit distracted this week, I didn’t think much about the hat. During Monday’s Order of the Garter post, however, several of noticed changes from its previous outing. This piqued my curiosity so I went back to this hat’s last appearance on March 10, 2014 for some side-bypside comparisons.


March 10, 2014 photos on the left; June 16, 2019 photos on the right


Even with less than ideal photos, there are some clear differences. Most obvious is the new brim and hatband. The flowers are different but the very similar petal individual shapes lead me to suspect that the flower has simply been rotated 180 degrees and is, essentially, now upside down.. The hatpins are different. Finally, the crown on this week’s hat appears to be a shorter version of the same formed shape- the space between the middle pleat (just about the hatband) and the top seems smaller in the more recent version. If this is indeed a crown shape change (and not my eyes playing tricks on me), it suggests that we have a new hat, maybe with some recycling of the old hat’s trim?

Designer: Rachel Trevor Morgan
Previously Worn:March 10, 2014; October 29, 2013October 1, 2013;  May 17, 2012

What do you say, dearest readers?

19 thoughts on “Hat Quandry At Polo

  1. Historically, or as historical as the history of this blog is, we have seen some interesting, and one might even say capricious, hat restyles and hat remodels, which don’t really follow any pattern or rhyme…..remember the button trims being slightly rearranged on the blue hat? The hot pink and black hat that had barely perceptible flowers in the same color as the body of the hat being appliqued at a much later date?
    It’s really not updating or often even a significant change….but then sometimes it is…..
    The rotation on the flower here is most interesting….whether aesthetic, a whim, or because of damage to the original hat, who knows…..

    The most intriguing thing is who makes these decisions? Is it HM because she doesn’t like the way a hat looks in photos, or it doesn’t feel balanced on her head?
    One thought was that perhaps Ms. Kelly just gets bored occasionally and needs a diversion –“let’s redo a hat before tea”— but this is RTM, so that theory doesn’t hold.
    MrFitzroy would dearly love to know the motivations on these tweaks and torques…..as Alice would say, ‘curiouser and curiouser….’

  2. The one thing that causes me to believe that this is the same hat remodeled is that it is clearly the same coat, so in order to have made a new hat in 2019 to match a coat that debuted in 2012, there would have had to have been some extra fabric stored away back then “just in case”. This is certainly possible, but would they do that with fabric from every one of HM’s thousands of coats over the years, just in case? And also, with a bright shade like this, the coat being worn multiple times in a variety of locations, the shade of pink might have slightly faded or altered over time, thus no longer matching the extra fabric that was stored away.

    I think it’s more likely that HM really likes this hat but wanted to give it a new twist, as many of us ordinary folks also do with our clothes, and that the remodeling scenario described by Wies is what probably happened.

  3. What sharp eyes you have! I have always liked this hat very much. When I saw it again, I didn’t even look carefully at it to see the differences. Actually, I rather prefer the first version. Perhaps the hat was in an accident.
    I guess I have to compare each repeated hat much more carefully with its previous wearings to see whether virtually every hat is modified slightly. (It certainly seems that the hats I don’t particularly care for never change!)

  4. Nice challenge, this is! A sort of “spot the differences”.
    I’m not sure the crown of the hat is lowered. It may be an optical effect, due to the smaller hatband. It is difficult to tell as the pictures are not taken from the exact same angle.
    The brim is re-blocked to give it an upturn and bound with the same fabric as that of the coat. In addition to the flower, a sinamay swirl is curled around the flower and hatband. This may possibly have been done with the leftover sinamay from the lowered bias hatband.
    It looks like it is the same hat, successfully recycled into a new shape, without any addition of new sinamay.

    • I agree with you, a subtle reshaping of hat into a new look. Which I like much better than the previous one. An uplifting look, something we all need as we age.

    • I agree with Wies’ assessment that this is the same hat, just changed, although not for the better unfortunately. The floral trim is now too far in the center, and that is my biggest issue; if it was more on the right side of the hat, then I probably wouldn’t complain too much, but more so wonder why the changes? RIP original.

    • As I look at this hat for the 50th time… you’re right that the crowns are the same height. It’s SO HARD to find photos taken at exactly the same angle and this difference of angles can make hats look very different.

      • The photos are not taken for our benefit only, alas! And unless you find someone who will give us inside information from RTM, we’ll never know for sure. (But at RTM’s they are probably seagreen incorruptible, as they should, working for the Queen!)

        • I think you’ve nailed it; same hat, but the brim has been reshaped and trimmed and the flower turned around. Why I wonder?! Perhaps the brim got damaged. Anyway, the first iteration was so stunning that any alteration is going to be a bit of a poor second. Still a lovely hat, but not quite as perfect as before.

          I do love a bit of hat mystiquery!

    • Thanks Wies for the explanation, I didn’t know that a brim could be successfully altered like this one has. Previously I thought that such a change would somehow ruin the hat. The Mk II version certainly looks as good as new!

  5. I think this was a favourite of the Queen’s that suffered an unknown terrible fate (mauled by a corgi or sat on by Prince George?), so the Queen asked her milliner to make another just the same. So she did – taking the opportunity to improve on the design.

  6. I so enjoy all of your posts I would wait a week if I had to! A stunning new version & the color is divine.

    • That’s kind. I’m tired enough already to admit this post was supposed to go up tomorrow (today we’ll be joined by British milliner Ellie Vallerini, who probably has some great stories from the years she spent working for John Boyd) but in a tired fog last night, I set it to publish a day early. Ah well. C’est la vie.

  7. Hmmmmm…. this has always been one of my favorite hats of HM’s because of that lovely rose, but now that I see the side-by-side photos, it’s definitely different. Is it a remake rather than a brand new hat though? Hmmmmmm…… I don’t suppose RTM will tell if we ask her? I’d love to hear from our guest milliners how difficult – or easy! – it is to remake a hat? (not just retrim) Is it something that is done a lot? Obv HM and our other royal ladies have enough hat wearing occasions to justify new hats all the time, but the rest of us with champagne tastes and beer budgets might need alternatives!

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