Royal Men’s Hats: Fedoras and Trilbys

I’m so pleased to pass the reins of Royal Hats over to longtime reader and regular commenter Jake for the second installment of a 4-part series on millinery worn by royal men. You can catch Jake and his many stylish hats on Instgram or Twitter @bestdressedmenno. 

“Fedora” can be a catchall word that can describe many variations of this type of hat. Fedoras can have small and large brims, center dent crowns or teardrop crowns, upturned and downturned brims, hatbands and feathers or none at all! Fedoras can look polished traditional, weathered, and even outback-esque (think Indiana Jones); they can be made from various straw materials (such as panama straw/toquilla palm, shantung straw, toyo, raffia, sisal, and paper straw), wool or fur felts, cotton and linen, leather, and even synthetic materials. One can wear a fedora with jeans and a T-shirt, a suit, and everything in between. Worn by any gender or age, fedoras are probably the most versatile hat today.

While homburgs and bowlers were more common daytime hats for most royal men in the first half of 20th Century, the fedora sometimes was photographed on royal heads.

Embed from Getty Images
King Alfonso XIII of Spain and  Emperor Akihito when he was a young crown prince

Embed from Getty Images
King George VI (as a young Duke of York) and Prince Nicholas of Greece & Denmark
(far right, father of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent)

In more recent years, saw the Duke of Edinburgh wear numerous straw designs and since the Duke’s retirement, King Carl XVI Gustaf has taken the leading role with his fedoras.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Otherwise, it’s rare to find a fedora on any of their colleagues. A couple exceptions include the Earl of Wessex, who owns a wide brim panama fedora, and Mike Tindall, who has worn trilbies occasionally, but usually at casual outings (a bit more on trilbies below).

I have some suggestions of fedoras and the royal men who could wear them. A teardrop-shaped crown fedora often looks good on those with squarer faces (like me!), so I think King Willem-Alexander, Prince Carl Philip, Prince Harry, Prince Daniel of Sweden, Prince Charles, and Crown Prince Haakon could all pull off this style quite well.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

A general fedora (often with a center dent crown shape) could be worn by others, such as King Felipe (taking a cue from his sister the Infanta Elena), Crown Prince Frederik (whose father wore many styles of hats), Emperor Naruhito, King Philippe (as Crown Prince), and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, but virtually any royal man could pull off a fedora in my opinion. The Danish royals, like Prince Joachim and his sons, could support Danish hatmaker Hornskov hats (not an official or paid endorsement, just a suggestion!). Even African royalty have occasionally donned fedoras, such as King Letsie III of Lesotho.

Embed from Getty Images

Finally, there is also the trilby, which is a sibling of the fedora. A trilby is quite similar overall to a fedora, except it has a much smaller (stingy!) brim that curls up around the back. As previously stated, Mike Tindall wears this shape well.

Embed from Getty Images

Some of the younger royals (such as Frederik & Mary’s sons, or Viscount Severn) could wear a trilby as a transitional hat. I also think Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg would look good in a trilby. Even Prince Michael of Kent could rock one again, as he did so when he was younger.

Embed from Getty Images

What do you think about the fedora and trilby? Who would you like to see in these styles? Are there photos I missed of royal men in fedoras?

Thanks for another interesting post, Jake! Readers can jump over to this post for more information on this history and characteristics of a fedora, or this post for the same on a trilby.

Photos from Getty as indicated

43 thoughts on “Royal Men’s Hats: Fedoras and Trilbys

  1. The future Edward VII pictured in 1870 … but I’m not sure what category this hat falls into. It’s not a bowler (I think), but is it a trilby or a fedora? The crown looks to be round. Jake, can you help?

    Embed from Getty Images

    • This looks most like a variation on a top hat to be honest. Like I said in a previous comment, some hats blur the lines between styles, and this one I would probably call a coachman’s hat (which is basically a top hat with a much shorter crown).

  2. Prince Michael of Kent at the Badminton Horse trials in 2000. He, like some of the other royal men, suits a trilby or fedora.

    Embed from Getty Images

    • Wow, I had not encountered this photo in my searching (granted, I could search forever for hat photos haha). Not 100% certain, but this looks like it could be the same hat on Prince Michael in the post! Thanks sandra!

  3. Great post, thank you Jake! It’s wonderful to see the gents getting some hat love! I think they all look great. Some of the panama straw fedoras look a bit wonky, but maybe that’s an issue with the straw & humidity? I’ve always been suspect by those claims that you can roll and pack a straw hat with no damage to it. I think Mike Tindall could probably pull off any hat going, he’s a very sharp dresser and adventurous with it too. I love him in a flat cap as well.

    • I have a panama hat they claim you can roll up and it will return to its original form unharmed; I did try rolling it in the store just to see and it worked, but I never trusted doing it with my own hat. A paper straw hat in the right shape can easily be folded in half and rolled up, but I find paper straw hats to lose their shape the quickest out of all straw materials.

      As for the wonkiness of some of the straws featured: virtually all hat materials can get bent out of shape with enough handling and lack of care, especially brims as they are often the most handled part of a hat. Depending on the abuse, it can be steamed out and reshaped, but if a straw gets a crack in it, there is no going back. That’s why it’s always best to handle a straw hat by the brim, for pinching the crown with your fingers can cause it to crack much quicker.

  4. Great feature, Jake! I don’t remember ever seeing Willem-Alexander in a hat before, which is too bad, since he rocks his Indiana Jones style fedora. And you were very thorough to recommend a Danish hatmaker for the princes of that country.

    Mike Tindall does indeed wear a trilby well — rather cheeky, as Patricia has said. But I wonder if the wider brim of a fedora would be more suited to his physique?

    I drifted over to this website https://optimo.com/ since I have admired their window display in Chicago. What do you think, Jake: are they the real deal? They certainly seem to take pride in their toquilla straw.

    Now that we are started on this topic, I’m thinking of many outdoor events that royals attend — horse races, Wimbledon, garden parties, etc. — and wonder why we don’t see more fedoras and trilbies.

    • I follow Hornskov Hats on Instagram, and decided it was a local Danish brand that I could feature and the Danish royals (indeed all the Nordic royals) could patronize; the British have many hat brands and stores to choose from (Lock & Co., Christy’s, Bates, etc.) and they have been discussed a bit previously, along with the famous Borsalino brand.

      I also follow Optimo on IG; I have not been to that store in person and therefore cannot comment on the quality (although presumably its quite high based on price and what I’ve seen online). If you want a genuine panama straw hat, expect to spend at least $100 dollars (unless you can find a good sale at the end of the season), but probably more like $150-$200; the super-finely woven panamas will set you back hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars as there are very few people who can weave those, and it can take months to do so. As for felt fedoras, wool felts are always cheaper and can be well-made, but a fur felt is always better quality (most vintage men’s hats will be made of fur felts), but of course will also cost more (usually $150+, and they won’t be made in China like most cheaper hats). Don’t know if that really answered your question, but hopefully it gives you some more insight!

      Yes, so many special events to wear hats to, but why not just for everyday even? One shouldn’t always need a special event for a hat! 🙂

  5. The best historical fedora photo I’ve found, by far, is the Duke of York (before he was George VI) riding a carousel at the Great Bookham in June 1922. The fedora isn’t textbook (the rolled brim makes it an interesting variation) but the photo was too fun not to share!
    Embed from Getty Images

    • Hat Queen, this wonderful photo raises a question for me as to the difference between a fedora and a homburg. I would have guessed King George’s hat to be the latter, but you and Jake are the experts in this department. This hat says David Suchet’s Hercule Poirot to me.

    • Prince of Wales (later George V) pictured in 1910:

      Embed from Getty Images

    • Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) pictured in 1898 in a darn fine hat:

      Embed from Getty Images

  6. Peter Phillips also has a well worn felt fedora. During some digging, I found what looks like a wool trilby, worn in the 1970s by his father, Mark.
    Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

  7. Indeed- great post, Jake that had me digging into my archives! It turns out we’ve seen Prince Charles in several fedoras in both leather and straw

    Embed from Getty Images

    • Indeed! As Peter Phillips fedora has been featured recently on the blog (as have a few other men’s hats), I tried to feature photos of royals in hats that we haven’t seen previously.

      Here is Charles in a genuine panama/toquilla fedora as he visited Ecuador; one of the only times we’ve probably seen a royal man in a hat and the royal woman sans hat!
      Embed from Getty Images

      And the Earl of Wessex in another panama straw fedora I’ve not seen before:
      Embed from Getty Images

    • This hat of Charles’, and King Willem-Alexander’s hat in the original post selection, I would call Australian bush hats or outback hats. They’re not your standard fedora (in my mind). I’ve seen one for sale online, very similar to the one Charles is wearing as: “Great protection from the elements with this widebrim cowhide fullgrain finished saddler hat. Lightweight, foldaway and water resistant. Rugged oiled and waxed finish.”

      Does function trump form in the way hats are named?

      • The overall shape is still a fedora, what we often call an outback hat or outback fedora. As for the Australian Akubra hat (which is a specific brand that has also become a style name to some people, kind of like Stetson with their cowboy hats), I briefly discuss this in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!

      • Also not royal but the best fedora wearer in my opinion is Raymond Reddington !! He has the best choices for all seasons 😁 the maker of his hats is an American company who’s hatter. hails from Ireland !! ( maybe he could give the Royals a few tips !

  8. Jake, nice group of Royal hats! I also love the fedora, and wear them, winter and summer. Though not a Royal, you should have posted the most abused fedora in recent history – the one often found on Princess Anne’s racing manager’s head, Andrew Parker Bowles.

    • Lord have mercy, Andrew Parker-Bowles’ hats have been through some torture! Luckily they are felt hats and can take more of a beating, because they wouldn’t have survived very long if straw. I prefer showing off ones that are given more love. 😉

      • And the gene for mistreating a hat seems to have been passed on to Andrew’s son Tom Parker-Bowles, pictured here with his mother and sister at the races in 2015 (not only a slightly battered hat but, IMHO, badly suited to the wearer!).

        Embed from Getty Images

  9. I always love seeing Mike Tindall in a trilby. It seems like a cheeky style to me, and always looks perfect on his smiling face!

    Thanks, Jake. Viva la fedora!

  10. So much fabulousness brought together in one place Jake– every hatted gentleman in your posts looks sharp and stylish.
    Prince Albert of Monaco wore a panama just the other day.
    I’m looking forward to your next post showcasing other hat styles!

    • Glad you enjoyed this mcncln. I was amazed to find more fedoras on royal men than I realized.

      The photos of Prince Albert aren’t very high quality and I’m having trouble finding others, but I don’t think his hat is a genuine panama as the weave doesn’t look correct in the last photo (see my response to sandra below); I could be wrong though, so hopefully better photos will appear.

      • Thank you for correcting the error HQ and retaining my comment. I apologise for the oversight; I should have checked that the photographer and copyright details were provided when I viewed the site.
        It must have taken you some time to trace the photos — I’m super impressed with your internet skills in unearthing them on a site published in a non-English language.

  11. Hi Jake, loving this series and the great images. But I have a question … in my ignorance I would call the straw hats pictured above ‘Panama’ hats. Are you able to enlighten me about Panama vs fedora? Is panama a separate style?

    • Ah yes, a very common questions sandra! While many people think panama refers to a style of hat, it actually refers to the material. Panama straw is made from the toquilla palm, all genuine panama hats are handwoven in Ecuador, and they are a UNESCO protected art nowadays (see more here: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/traditional-weaving-of-the-ecuadorian-toquilla-straw-hat-00729). Like virtually any other hat material, panama can be shaped into any design of hat and dyed many colors. The name “panama” became popular in English because the hats were originally shipped out to the world from Panama (and eventually through the Panama Canal), and even more so when Teddy Roosevelt visited the Panama Canal wearing a toquilla palm/panama hat. This probably deserves its own post at some point haha.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.