Ascot Hats: Duchess of Cornwall

We kick off the first day of Royal Ascot 2020 with a look back at all the hats the Duchess of Cornwall has worn to the races over the years, all from the studio of master milliner Philip Treacy:

2005:

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Ecru straw sharp sidesweep with silk figure-8 bow

2006:

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Pale oyster straw cartwheel brimmed hat with burnt feathers

2007:  

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Ivory windowpane straw slice with flowers & navy feathers June 19; Ecru straw creased-crown sidesweep June 20

2008:

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Ivory straw sidesweep with mint feather vine June 17; Turquoise straw sidesweep with goose feather pinwheels June 18

2009:

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Pale gold woven straw upsweep with flying bow June 16; Pink straw picture hat with feathers, silk loops& roses June 17

2011 and 2012:

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Repeat of the pale gold woven upsweep with flying bow from 2009; Almond straw upsweep with silk abacca brim wrap

2013:

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Ivory straw angled crown hat with ecru jinsin hatband and knot June 18; repeated pale gold woven upsweep June 19

2014:

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Ice blue straw sidesweep with crin & jinsin twists June 17; Ecru straw sidesweep with jinsin hatband & twist June 18

2015:

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Mint straw sharply raised brim with jinsin twists June 15

2016:

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Soft pink sidesweep with oversize flower June 14; Repeated ivory hat with ecru jinsin knot June 15
White straw slice with pink rose June 17; cream and navy straw sidesweep with bow and feather June 18 

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Cream straw hat with angular crown and feather spray on June 20; blue straw slice with silk flower June 21
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Pair of ecru straw hats with angled crowns and sidesweep brims with floral trim June 19 and lace trim June 20
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Blush straw slice with silk flower June 18; Pale aqua sidesweep with jinsin twists June 19
It’s an impressive parade of picture hats with sweeping brims, is it not?! The Duchess has developed a specific, signature millinery style that suits her well.
Now…while there are variations in crown and brim shape that indicate an evolution of this look (albeit subtle!) and incredibly beautiful trimmings, I’d love to see more saturated colour and the introduction of some different silhouettes. Philip Treacy’s 2020 summer collection includes this deep purple windowpane edged saucer and this seafoam straw and crin waved disc with silk flowers, both which would push Camilla’s millinery style but make stunning looks for her.  And what about introducing the occasional hat from a new milliner?! I can see designs from Dillon Wallwork, Merve Bayindir, Vivien Sheriff, William Chambers and Joaquina Pereira suiting Camilla’s style.

What do you notice about this evolution of the Duchess’ Royal Ascot hats?

For another retrospective of Royal Ascot hats, jump over to this previously published post featuring Princess Beatrice. 

Photos from Getty as indicated 

17 thoughts on “Ascot Hats: Duchess of Cornwall

  1. As always, HatQueen, your examples are illuminating and precise. Excellent clarification to a good question!

  2. HatQueen asks, “What do you notice about this evolution of the Duchess’ Royal Ascot hats?” and I honestly have to say that there is none. (Evolution, that is.) I noticed the hats from year to year as they appeared, but didn’t keep track of them enough to realize that they were all from the same milliner and all so similar, with in some cases only the smallest variations from previous examples. While I agree that it makes a person feel good to stick with the proven successes, it surprises me that the Duchess doesn’t venture out of her comfort zone a little more often. In fact, as HQ just pointed out above, she already has some other beautiful hats in her collection that she could bring out again.

    HatQueen, I wonder if you could clarify the difference between a sidesweep and a slice. I have placed some of these pictures side-by-side on my screen, and in many cases, the brims don’t look all that different to my untrained eye to have different names.

    • Sidesweep: the brim is raised on one side of the hat to create a gentle to moderate diagonal line across the front view of the hat
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      Slice: the brim is sharply raised on one side of the hat, above the height of the crown, creating a steep incline that ‘slices’ across the front of the hat
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      Upsweep: the brim is curved upward around the front of the hat. While the brim usually extendes over the crown, there is not a visible diagonal line from the front view- the whole look is softer, like a gust of wind blew the brim up, off the face.
      Embed from Getty Images

      Does this help?

  3. I don’t fault Camilla for sticking with largely similar designs as they suit her so well! (I also stick with virtually the same shape for all my fedoras) As we saw with Sophie’s Garter Day hats, the exaggerated angles of her early hats give way to a little more softness.

    What does concern me is the lack of color, not only in the hats but with her outfits as a whole; I’ve never understood why Camilla mostly favors bold colors in the fall/winter and neutrals and pastels in the spring/summer. 2012’s wood shaving hat (I use that term lovingly; my grandfather had a wood workshop) has a saturated sky blue twin that I think was only ever worn once sadly (https://royalhats.net/2015/05/13/british-royals-host-garden-party/).

    Despite all of that, there are still many here I love: 2006 (I know many find the feather pigtails weird, but I love them), 2009’s dusty rose hat (still ranks as one of her best in terms of shape, trim, and color), 2014’s ice blue (probably my all-time favorite Camilla hat), 2016’s Day 1 pink hat (despite being pastel, it’s stunningly beautiful), and 2017’s blue slice (again, more general perfection and flattery for Camilla).

    If I had to choose from Treacy’s 2020 collection, I think HatQueen’s purple suggestion is a good choice, but also how about this one in red (https://www.philiptreacy.co.uk/en/collection/ss20/OC-717), which she could wear with a neutral outfit (although I can’t ever recall Camilla in red, so maybe she doesn’t care for the color); another pink hat but in a slightly different shape from her usual go-tos (https://www.philiptreacy.co.uk/en/collection/ss20/OC-730); while black is often reserved for funerals, etc., this dramatic one could pair well with most of her neutral outfits for some contrast (https://www.philiptreacy.co.uk/en/collection/ss20/OC-765); or this one for something a little more frivolous than what Camilla usually goes for without straying too far from her style (https://www.philiptreacy.co.uk/en/collection/ss20/OC-771).

    • Jake- Every year at Royal Ascot, I wait for this beautiful blue hat to make another appearance. 5 years and counting….
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      • HatQueen, I keep hoping for the day we will no longer mourn together, but instead celebrate the return of this hat!

  4. Since 2011 they all pretty much look the same. Good but been there done that and seen it before. Yawn.

    Love the older ones with wonkier shapes. They actually have personality.

    If I was a royal I’d wear hats from all different designers! Love Camilla but this is a bit of a rut.

  5. Buffy, being ignorant of the meaning GOAT, (probably because of our age difference,) I Googled it. Two things came up:
    1. Global Platform for Style, namely the purchase of authentic sneakers, and
    2. “Greatest of all time.” I assume you are referring to this one, and I agree with you 100%.
    After seeing so many ecru-ivory-cream-white-blush-pale gold-oyster-almond hats, (albeit all beautiful) my interest and eyes went immediately to the turquoise-pink-blue-pale aqua hats. Personally, I prefer the contrast of these pastels with Camilla’s hair.
    Theory: Camilla opted for not up-staging the boss. Her time will come, but hopefully, still not for a long time.

  6. 2009’s pink is still the GOAT! The only one here I don’t really care for is 2015’s, I don’t think those twists under the brim were very flattering. Big brims really suit Camilla and balance out her hairdo, so if it’s not broke why fix it? Even her berets seem to be a bit oversized but they work for her. I’d like to see in in brighter shades though, not always cream or ecru or pastels.

    • That 2009 pink is a LOT of hat, isn’t it, but the Duchess carries it off! I also admire the understated elegance of the 2012 almond upsweep, and the blue from 2014 is really the perfect colour on her.

      OK, so her Ascot style is not adventurous, but a lady of maturer years is likely to have found what works for her and may well prefer consistent good with spots of excellence to wild variations from great to dire.

  7. It’s all very “same same,” but she knows what works for her and she wears them extremely well.
    Your suggestion on the deep purple Philip Treacy is wonderful. She would look dynamite in that.

  8. Heavens, I know Camilla has her go to shapes, but seeing these all together makes me see just how alike the all are, and with so little change in 15 years.

    Thing is I love these on her – I like Sophie where her change to more delicate designs suits her more, Camilla really suits these dramatic exaggerated shapes. I particularly love the upswept brims (the bun lids) that she so favours. And yes she sticks with a pale palette, but still there’s always drama and presence.

    A particular favourite of mine is the mint green with all the leaves, the trim is so delicate yet dramatic.

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