Longest Quill?

We see quills of all lengths and colours on royal hats from the gently curved to the tightly curved. For this week’s discussion question, dearest readers, I’m wondering: which royal hat hosts the longest quill?

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Image from Getty as indicated

84 thoughts on “Longest Quill?

  1. Verry late along but when I saw the theme, this is the hat that came to mind. It took me a minute or three to find this and even then not sure if it’s a quill, but I well remember the discussion this hat prompted when it appeared on this site (and now I can’t find). Worn in Poland in 2014.

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  2. Eureka!! I just knew there was a huge quill in Camilla’s hat closet. It took me all weekend (snowed in here so a welcome distraction!) but I found it!
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  3. Regarding early quill use as trim in decades past…..
    While MrFitzroy hasn’t located an actual photo, this fashion illustration of HM’s ‘going away’ honeymoon hat, specifically references quill (vs. feather) trim…and would date to 1947. Though from the illustration, they may have been closely trimmed feathers, rather than naked quills….but still!

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    • “Princess Elizabeth’s going away hat this high bonnet beret in love-in-the-mist blue, trimmed with a large orstrich pom pom and curved quills in two tones of blue has been designed by Sage Thaarup for her going away outfit after her marriage. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)”

      • Last note: On further research, turns out in the caption “Sage Thaarup” was a typo. The actual milliner was danish — Aage Thaarup, who it turns out is responsible both for the Queen Mother’s signature look of brimmed hat with veil, but also designed Princess Elizabeth’s Trooping the Color hat, which was considered very contemporary when first designed, and is arguably one of her most well known! Always something new to learn in Royal Hat world!!
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aage_Thaarup

        • Oh yes! Not sure why I didn’t think of this one. This is the only pic I can find where you can see the quills, but you do have to zoom in a bit… Embed from Getty Images

    • I found 2 other occasions where HM wore this ensemble, but alas, only black and white! Notice in both photos, both princesses wore the same ensembles!

      February 10, 1948: a wedding
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      April 10, 1948: Roosevelt unveiling
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      • I’m sure everyone has moved on at this point, but I found a VIDEO of this famous hat. I hope someone will enjoy this short movie.

        • Thank you for this video, Jimbo! This must be yet one more wearing of the coat and hat in the same year, as it does not appear to be either a wedding or the Roosevelt unveiling. I’m guessing that the thrift which was a hallmark of the war years was still ingrained in 1948, and that royals as well as “regular” people got lots of use out of their clothing even in public appearances.

          • Matthew, so this ensemble was worn at least 4 times, and photograghically (if that’s a word) documented. I read somewhere that HM gets about 10 wearings from her hats/clothes before retiring them. I also read that through the years, approximately 5000 chapeaus have been worn on the royal head. If we started in 1947, the year of her wedding, an average of 68 different hats could have been worn per year, with no repetition! That’s a LOT of ribbon cuttings, church outings, and royal tours. I sure miss seeing her these days, especially if she dug back in the closet and wore a golden oldie, how much fun that would be.

      • Great photos! Looking at this hat closely, I’m afraid we have trimmed feathers and not quills. In this case, I think the hat is better for it. And, it’s giving stronger legs to JamesB’s theory that quills have been widely used as a millinery trim the past 20 years.

  4. The photos of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are such fun! They sent me down a rabbit hole on the internet and look what I found:
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    • Brilliant! I think Princess Beatrice’s quills are the ones to beat.

      I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up Princess Eugenie’s Robyn Coles lily hats with quill spadix.

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  5. hm in 1990 with what now looks like rare, early (pre-2000) fully-stripped grass green quills

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  7. Queen Mathilde
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  8. Princess Beatrice
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  9. Well I’ve trawled through various hat histories and I can’t find much pre the millennium….

    I did find this interesting hat on Queen Sonja from about 2006 though. Not even sure if these are quills or peachy chopsticks frankly!

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  10. I absolutely love these two hats of Princess Anne’s

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  11. Kate doesn’t have many hats with quills at all. I’ve just been able to find two. The second hat looks like a short quill but it’s a long one curled in a loop.
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  12. Autumn Phillips
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  13. So I’m going to posit that the use of stripped quills on hats has increased in the past 20 years or so. Can any milliner contributors shed any light? Just looking at hat trimmings and can’t really find much before then.

    Looking at Diana’s hats, I can find these two, and what strikes me is that hats in the 80s were much more sparsely trimmed relying more on scale and shape for their impact. I’m now mulling over millinery trends over the decades. I think I need a G&T to do this…

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    • It’s interesting that the quills on these two hats aren’t truly naked (!) with arrow trimmed feathers on both sides. I’ve just looked through my archive of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Beatrix’s hats during the from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s and can’t find any with quills. I think your hypothesis might be on to something…

    • JamesB I was thinking something similar, but in relation to Diana and Sarah only. You raise a great question. I wonder if quills were used in the 1930’s or 1940’s on the likes of Princess Marina, Princess Alice or Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother).

      It’s a fun rabbit hole to go down I suspect!

      Bravo for finding 2 great hats on Princess Diana.

  14. Maxima’s hats have almost no quills. Only 3 I think.
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  15. Duchess of Cornwall on her wedding day

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  16. Off topic but Mathilde has hat with probably shortest and thinest quills
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  17. Sophie Wessex has a couple of them!
    Royal Ascot 2010:
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    Zara and Mike’s wedding
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    Service Of Thanksgiving for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
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    Also from Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, Epsom Derby
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    Anne in Royal Ascot 2017 and 2018
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    Stephanie in Felix and Claire’s wedding, I love how the quill “pierces through” the hat
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    Mette Marit in Charles and Camille’s wedding (even though it looks more like a half trimmed feather)
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    Also Mette Marit in her daughter Ingrid Alexandra’s christening (btw Happy Birthday to this young lady!). Maybe not the longest, but hat with the most quills? (I am not sure, are these counted as quill(s) too?)
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    • Here’s another interesting pair of quills on one of Sophie’s hats
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  18. Not a royal hat but a hat from royal wedding, the first one came to my mind is Victoria Beckham in 2011. I can’t say I really love this one but the quill is so memorable to me.
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  19. Princess Margaret may not have the longest quills……but certainly some of the more unusual designs that incorporate them!

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    • Certainly catches the eye! I think these styles would be more familiar to an older generation, including, I must confess, myself!

  20. Zara Tindall has tons of hats with quills
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  21. Princess Haya

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  22. Duchess of Sussex

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  23. So aptly enough I can find some pretty long quills on HM’s green hats. These two aren’t inconsiderable.

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    The one I was looking for though is the lovely pale green number by RTM whose delicate feathers were stripped back to their spines, which was not an improvement. I’m sure someone else can track it down!

    • Here you go, from one James B to another JamesB. I remember commenting on the haircut of the feathers in 2016, that with all due respect, Philip should take notice.

      May 31, 2013
      June 27, 2016
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      • I agree, dear JamesBs, this hat was better with the original, wispy feather trim.

        Here’s another green hat with impressive quills to add to your collection, this one by Edwina Ibbotsen worn by Autumn Phillips in 2018
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  24. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand, nor will soaking soften a quill! But heating will. An electric hair straightener will do the trick, though it needs a little practise to give the quill the desired shape and not to snap it.

    • Thank you, Wies! It actually never occurred to me to think of using heat, I guess because I was so used to softening basket reeds, which are very wooden, and would likely catch fire before curling!

  25. Some of these quills are quite curved, and I wonder if any of our participating milliners can explain how they can be curved like that without breaking. Are they soaked in water first to soften, similar to the way reeds are prepared for basketweaving?

  26. May 13 & 14, 2008 on tour of Turkey
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  27. February 24, 2002 ( an almost 20 year old beauty, just collecting dust somewhere!)
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    • Don’t you love how the light comes thru the brim? In the 3rd pic, HM looks so relaxed and happy.

      May 15, 2004
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  28. September 14, 2001
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    • Another view
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  29. As you’d suspect Máxima has a few. This one could be the longest I could find:
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    This one, though is probably my favourite:
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  30. I could resist this one – you can’t even see the whole quill. Embed from Getty Images

    • wow – that’s huge! great post.
      i did come across this lovely hat with what could be twisted quills???
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  31. Hi HQ, just to clarify; in millinery, is a quill the spine of a feather with the er, fluffy bits (technical term, anyone?) stripped off? does Beatrice Borromeo’s below count? Embed from Getty Images

    • this is the first that came to mind for me, but alas i think these might still be feathers. however there is this other stunning black hat/hairpiece…
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      • I think we’re good- there’s an arrow trimmed feather but also a soaring quill.
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    • A quill is, indeed, the stripped spine of a feather. The feathers on this headpiece are almost completely trimmed and the movement is so pretty that it’s certainly worth including here!
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  32. I think these quills from New Year’s Eve 1999 might be the most famous ones but I have a hunch they aren’t the longest.
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    • forgot about that one!
      here’s a few more suggestions from hm
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      • The gold quill from Princess Eugenie’s wedding might be the most glam one! Here’s two long quills on a hat from 2002 that made a surprise, updated appearance last year
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