Monday Multiples: Princess Diana

The first hat worn by the late Princess of Wales after her marriage was one she plucked from the wall of milliner John Boyd’s London studio, drawn to its distinct shape. A smaller profile hat with rolled Breton brim, the tricorn design is formed by an upfolded back that creates the unique, triangular shape. The hat became a signature millinery look for the princess during the first two years of her royal life, working well with her feathered hairstyle and allowing the crowds that flocked to see her a full view of her face. She wore eight versions of this tricorn; all but the last, embellished with a lavish ostrich plume.

Look #1: Coral straw worn July 29, 1981 to embark on her honeymoon and March, 25 1983 in Australia. Suit by Bellville Sassoon.

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Look #2: Burgundy felt worn October 29, 1981 on her first visit to Wales, on a November 1983 visit to St. Austell in Cornwall and March 23, 1984. Velvet coat by Jasper Conran.

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Look #3: Royal blue felt worn November 11, 1981 for a visit to the Guildhall in London, a visit to Wrexham, Wales in November 1982 and an October 1983 visit to Renfewshire. Coat by Jasper Conran.

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Look #4: Pale grey straw (with the back folded down instead of up) worn April 8, 1983 western Australia.

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Look #5: White straw worn April 11 & 18 1983 in New Zealand and June 15 & 30, 1983 in Canada. All three dresses by Donald Campbell.

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Look #6: Emerald green straw worn June 24,1983 in eastern Canada and November 1, 1983 in Bethnal Green, UK. Suit by Jasper Conran.

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Look #7: Yellow straw worn June 28, 1983 on a visit to Prince Edward Island in Canada.

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Look #8: Loden green velvet worn September 1983 for the Braemar Games in Scotland and a November 1983 visit to Guard’s Chapel, London. Velvet suit by Caroline Charles.

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What version of this John Boyd design do you think worked best?

Photo from Getty as indicated

21 thoughts on “Monday Multiples: Princess Diana

  1. Having watching her during that period & collected books, pict, etc, I was surprised that I never saw how similar all those were!! Great article!

  2. What a fabulous post today Hat Queen! Thank you! I’ve enjoyed looking at the photos of my favorite royal!
    I have always had a soft spot for Look #2 – the burgundy hat and outfit. As a little girl I thought she looked so sophisticated and exactly what a Princess should look like. I always loved the ostrich feather on the side of her hats (Look 1, 2, 6). It was very chic back then! After all these years I never connected all these hats to a similar shape, so thank you for this retrospective HQ.

  3. While I like them all, back in the day I was particularly fond of her going away hat, the gray one and the royal blue (it was the veil on that one).

  4. FABULOUS post! These hats are iconic early Lady Di, this hat shape became a go to for British women going to weddings for quite a few years afterwards. They’re charming and girlish, but not exactly classic; but I guess that’s because the shape is so closely linked to this era of Diana. I like all of them, which surprises me, but the emerald green is a standout, that sharp suit shows a hint of the more streamlined direction she was going to go in. I also love the burgundy look in Wales, velvet always looks so stylish for a winter outfit.

    • JamesB, I agree with you about the green velvet hat. The feathers on the other hats were not as appealing to me today as they were back I the day…..and I had one of this hats myself!!!

  5. Oh my goodness! What’s amazing to MrFitzroy is that considering how iconic several of these outfits are….the honeymoon departure ensemble, the red coat, the burgundy and Braemar loden suits, that he never noticed these were the same hat style!
    One supposes that with Diana, at the time, it was the dress rather than the hat that caught most of the attention….and without such a wonderful resource as our dear HatQueen, it was much more difficult, in those days, to recall exact details and compare different outfits.
    Also very interesting to see the very similar variation designs gathered by SirLancelot —“early Diana” style was so wonderful, of the time, and so consistent. Thank you Sir!
    It is amusing to think back to how ‘revolutionary’ that first Boyd peach hat seemed in context….as many at the time speculated that Diana would break the royal hat wearing tradition.

  6. Very interesting! To me, the first two and the sixth, with the feathers placed on the side, seem more classic and the least fixed in their era. They are the ones that I could see being worn today more easily, whereas those with the feather trim at the rear seem much more dated (and remind me of similarly dated hats Boyd worn by the Queen, albeit a different shape). The odd one out is the darker green one with no trim, which I really like, it seems to me the perfect complement to that velvet suit. But is it actually the same hat shape as the others, with the “third side” at the back? It looks more like a shallow bowler but it’s difficult to tell without a rear view.

  7. A fantastic group of wonderful hats! My favorite is the emerald green ensemble – great with Diana’s hair color, followed closely by the royal blue. The yellow, white, and pale grey are least successful, IMO.
    The link below is an entire article based on the wine colored ensemble. The big white collar suggests that Diana had worn it yet another time, but it was far less pleasing to me. Interesting article, none the less.
    In a closet here at home is an exact duplicate of today’s hat, in navy, with a net and ostrich poof in the rear. It has not publicly seen the light of day for many years. It was a Christmas gift in 1982, if memory serves correctly.
    We just watched the 1964 “Zorba the Greek” last night for the first (!) time. Nice entertainment.

  8. Wonderful to see all of these hats gathered together in one post, and to realize how many different materials were utilized in making them during their period of popularity. This style was so closely identified with Diana that I can’t think of any occasion when it was worn by any other royal, can anyone?

    • I did think Princess Michael of Kent but couldnt find anything

      However, what did pop up was Eugenie’s unforgettable Philip Treacy hat from Prince William and Kate’s wedding, which on closer inspection is quite a modern take on the style – small turned up brim, feathered pompom to the rear, albeit with additional clashing fabric flower, sparkle, and large insect!!!

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      I also found some pics of some of Diana’s other similar styles (with large brim and no brim) from the original era – in fact i believe the first is from her first official visit to Wales as Princess of Wales, at St David’s Cathedral, October 1981. the blue/grey with the navy velvet coat in London, December 1982, then a larger brimmed dark blue version in Nottingham March 1985 (with the same coat as 82???)….

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      • Sirlancelot, I’m not sure I would agree that any of these are in the same group as the original “triangular” hats in this post. The three of Diana’s all seem to be round, and Princess Eugenie’s, while pretty awesome, I would define as more of a teardrop shape. (I’ll have to go back to the older posts to see what the concensus was at that time about the shape.) On the other hand, I never before realized the extent to which the tan and blue-grey hats are twins including the placement of the feathers, so thanks for putting those next to each other.

      • Interesting! sirlancelot it’s fun to see those other non-teardrop hats of Diana’s in the same post for comparison, the similarities are so apparent. I agree that Eugenie’s hat is what one would get if trying to convert one of these styles of Diana’s into a 21st century percher. Great creative thinking!

  9. I agree – all lovely for their time – though not convinced they would transfer to being worn today – I feel that they might look a little comedic (in a robin hood sort of way). I think my least favourite is the pale grey, with the net on the rear.
    My 2 favourites are the lemon with the big feathery pompom, and for me its the loden velvet – I like the silky ribbon against the luxuriousness of the wintry velvet, especially with the whole outfit.

  10. I love the blue with veil. Such a striking colour!

    Don’t really like the others with the feather placed infront because I see the feather stem sticking out first. But I do love how it looks from the side.

    • Coco, that feather stem was bothering me, too. It seems we try to cover those things up nowadays! I do love Diana, though and it was so nice to see this post. I had never noticed they were all the same design. I wonder if she ordered them all at once or as the need came up for them she asked for another in that same style?

  11. A great retrospective HQ on an iconic hat style. I feel these hats could all be worn now – though it’s hard to imagine them worn with longer hair which is today’s norm. Diana’s hairstyle was so much the perfect complement to this style, as you rightly point out.
    I can’t decide on a favourite; I like them all. As trickymum does, I find the loden green one less successful, for me due to the wide doubled ribbon band which seems too heavy for this small delicate hat style. Love the bow, the colour and the contrasting textures though,

  12. Despite the lovely rich colour, the loden green is the one I like least – it seems more pork pie than tricorn than the others. I prefer the ones with large feathers that drape over the hat, rather than hang like a tail at the back (although the yellow is so flamboyant, it gets away with it!) – so it’s between the pink, the burgundy and the emerald for me. All lovely hats for the time!

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