Two years ago on March 11, 2019, I wrote here about the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. One of the royal hats covered was this one, worn by the Duchess of Sussex.
My critique about the hat was lukewarm, something I still think was fair. There is, however, another piece of information we now know about this period in the Duchess’ life- when these photos were taken, she was not okay. She was deeply troubled and struggling, at a breaking point of personal crisis.
If I had known this at the time, would I have changed my words of commentary? Maybe. I think many have taken a particularly gentle approach when writing/speaking about Empress Masako, knowing of her long mental health struggle. This has me thinking this morning about the true value of royal fashion blogging, how it contributes to celebrity royal culture, and what it means for (and takes from) all involved.
This post is not an announcement that I’m hanging up my blogging hat. It’s questioning how I can continue in a way that is healthy and empowering for all. For me, the best and most unexpected surprise of writing Royal Hats (aside from creating a community of wonderful readers!) has been the opportunity and platform to champion milliners and millinery around the world (stay tuned later this spring for a new endeavor in this area). It has long been important to me that Royal Hats be a respectful forum for royal watching and discussion. I’m proud of what we’ve created here together but I think it’s good to step back to reconsider, evaluate and learn when opportunity to do so is presented. I welcome your thoughts.
Images from Getty as indicated
I’ve been a reader for many years, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented.
I think, first of all, that your wonderful blog has never contributed anything negative or mean-spirited into the world of royal fashion blogging. As a long-time reader, I can’t even tell who your favorite royals are, or if you personally follow the royal gossip sites.
We all know which blogs and websites use fashion critique to simply hurt the people wearing the clothes and hats. This isn’t one of those sites. It never has been. I think royal fashion attracts fans for many reasons, but I know for me, it’s because I enjoy seeing fashion on real people in candid photographs more than in magazine photos and Instagram ads. To no longer discuss current royal appearances would be a great loss to your fans and fans of the skilled artisans responsible for creating those beautiful hats!
I’m incredibly sad for what other corners of the internet have done to certain royals and celebrities, but I don’t think honest critiques about the success of a hat’s shape and/or use are problematic. Millinery craftsmanship is a form of art, and art is always subject to critique. It’s also likely the least problematic fashion blogging out there, as clothes critiques inevitably involve fit and tailoring, which can devolve in discussions about a woman’s figure.
As to royal women and blogging/editorializing as a whole, it’s complicated, and I don’t have a solution. As part of their role, they represent their governments and citizens, and their fashion along with what they say and do is the public part of those roles. Their clothing is also often purchased with funds provided by their governments/government structures. On the other hand, there are most certainly people who treat royals cruelly, and everyone, including royal women, deserves to live their lives with dignity and compassion. And royals, in general, are easy targets for online trolling and can’t defend themselves.
Apologies for being so late to this valuable conversation. Since I discovered Royal Hats, I have found the discussion always respectful – and the odd joke, provoked by some larger-than-life millinery creation, is never cruel or malicious. I have learned so much from Royal Hats that I can now answer quiz questions about royal heads and hats in general, almost without blinking! (An unexpected bonus.) Your blog has been, and continues to be, an education in the gentle arts. I love how commenters have developed into a community, unfailingly polite and supportive, despite the fact we have no idea who is behind the user name. It doesn’t matter. The kindness shows through and that’s enough. I hope, dear HQ, that you feel energised by the well-deserved support you’re receiving and will continue to entertain and inform us with your blogging. xx
I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a long time. PLEASE don’t cancel yourself! We have way too much of ‘cancel culture’ going on in society.. This unfortunate ‘wokeness’ and censoring of all people, including writers and artists is a cancer that is dangerous to democracy and borders on socialism/communism. Free speech is a must in a civilized modern society. This is fashion and millinery and many of us look forward to reading and learning all about what you have to offer. I think your content is wonderful and you have always been kind and have never criticized anyone. It’s interesting and educational that you offer different style perspectives and that is so refreshing. Please don’t stop or change your wonderful insight into Royal millinery!
As an American woman involved in horse racing, polo and many events, millinery is a big part of my life. Your coverage in detail of the millinery worn by different royals is extensive, interesting and fascinating. You are well-informed and have a passion which is evident.
I have never thought of any opinion you gave as negative or cruel in any way. In fact, many times you’ve shown how certain Royals & individual styles have evolved throughout their lives, which is key to their personal style choices and trends of the time. I love the evolution of styles.
There is absolutely nothing wrong in having an opinion, it’s what makes us all unique and that’s how we can learn from each other! I may not care for certain designers but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate their work and their vision. Debate is healthy and educational! It’s absolutely imperative we all are able to be free in our thoughts, opinions and speech. Even if we disagree. I don’t want to live in a cookie-cutter society where everyone and everything is so ‘politically correct’ that we’re walking on eggshells for fear of stating an opinion. This is fashion, this is millinery! It isn’t about some personal attack on someone. I’ve seen first hand many beautiful ladies unfamiliar with millinery and race wear/racing style get bad advice from stylists, fashion gurus or designers to disastrous results. Let’s not succumb to this awful ideology. It’s important to have historical perspective or we will never evolve or learn anything. We simply cannot erase everything including painful history, or we will not be able to evolve and grow.
Fashion and millinery follow the times, there are trends that come and go, some are classic and will always look beautiful, and some are ‘of the moment’ and simply don’t stand the test of time; but allow us a glimpse into fashion and was was all the rage back in the day! I personally follow Zara Tindall’s millinery style, as she is an equestrian like me & hers is a style most similar to my own – you showed her style evolution over the years. Her choices are very bold sometimes, but they suit her. Please don’t ever be afraid to critique millinery and state your opinion. Imagine if people silenced Isabella Blow, Alexander McQueen or Philip Treacy! What a boring world it would be. Be yourself and do what you love, success and your fans will always follow. With much love and respect, Elizabeth
Thanks for your thoughts. I have long believed that we are all responsible for what we put out into the world and have to own the impact of it, whether it be positive or negative. This week was a good opportunity for me to stop and check in about Royal Hats’ impact. I’ve truly appreciated all of the affirmation.
This blog is titled “royal hats” and I think it should remain a place for polite comments about the varied chapeaux worn by past and current royals. Your writings have taught me about a favorite aspect of fashion and to think that you might cease sharing your know knowledge would make me very sad. Your retrospective posts are wonderful. I love casting my vote for my favorite hat!
Let’s just continue to discuss millinery in a respectful and considerate manner and choose our favourite hats in the polls
I haven’t read all the comments, so I’m probably just repeating what others have said. This blog has been such a wonderful place to start my day. I love hats and since royals are the most likely to wear them, then it makes sense that they would be the focus of your writing. But I really have no interest in royalty per se and would love to read more extensive comments by you when you post the photos of hats that have “caught you eye.”
Whatever you decide, my hat’s off to you! (Has someone already used that joke?) Thank you for hours of entertainment!
Greetings Hat Queen, I just want to be counted as someone who has never found a negative comment about a person in your blog. You have found a way to keep the focus on the hat and not the wearer. I find your blog to be relaxing, entertaining and a way to keep up with what the royals are up to without gossip or hearsay bringing me down. I am glad you are going to continue blogging. And I am touched that your takeaway from this brouhaha is “How do I use this opportunity to be a better person and blogger”. That is obviously not how many the way many in media are responding which makes it all the more refreshing Please keep up your excellent work!
Thanks for your kind words.
Whether we like it or not, I think we are all part of perpetuating a royal celebrity culture where some royals have become commoditized. Navigating this is hard… and I truly don’t have answers beyond being mindful of what headlines I click on (and link to in weekend “Extras” posts) and doing my best not to get sucked into Twitter vortexes!
I am also a longtime lurker and love Royal Hats for all the reasons everyone else has already said. I’ve learned so much about hats and how they are made and really enjoy seeing how different styles have been popular in the past. I also really admire how positive and respectful everyone is here. Hat Queen you really lead the way on this.
Maybe to show your commitment to this you could donate part of your blog earnings to an organization that supports mental health?
I think HatQueen has already said her blog is a labour of love due to the high cost of using Getty for photographs.
My view is if she makes a little then good for her as she’s unwittingly helped so many enjoy a very safe and happy place within social media and that is as rare as hen’s teeth. I hope she makes enough to treat herself to a nice hat.
Royal Hats does not generate any money whatsoever. Doing so would disqualify me from using Getty Images (as per copyright law in my country) which, as you all know, are the main images used on this blog. And Royal Hats can’t survive without images of hats to admire!
I’ve long understood that Royal Hats would not be an income generator for me. It really is a labour of love.
HOLD THE PHONE. You don’t make any money from this????
I love your blog and check it daily. One of the main reasons I love your blog is because there is no malice or hatred from you or anyone that posts in the comments. It’s simply commentary on the hats and not on the person.
I think you’ve done a wonderful job of critiquing the HAT, not the woman wearing it, which I think is the difference. We can love the person, but not necessarily like what they’re wearing. I can only imagine what people think of my clothes, LOL.
Thank you, HQ for your concern and your lovely blog. Long may it continue.
Dear Hat Queen,
I think it is likely that those who are most concerned about how they might potentially be adding to the toxicity of royal-watching media are not the ones who most need to be questioning themselves. Those who are most toxic are least likely to be aware of the fact; or if they are aware, to care. This clearly does not resemble you.
You’ve created a lovely shared space in the digital world, one which is clearly focussed on hats more than the royal heads they sit on, and which does so in a way which is creative and informative and worlds away from the nasty gossip of some other media.
I think you can be proud of what you have achieved here, and I’m looking forward to more of it.
I appreciate your kind words. It means a great deal to me that everyone here is so committed to keeping Royal Hats a positive and respectful space.
My goodness, I stepped away from the online world for a couple of days due to being very busy “in real life” and returned to 45 comments!
Having never previously had any particular interest in hats, I found this blog accidentally while googling Lady Helen Taylor to see who she was (she had been mentioned in an article I was reading) and stayed because, being somewhat on the crafty side, I loved the embellishments on HM’s hats. (In fact, it was specifically from this blog that I learned the habit of referring to The Queen as HM.) From there, I came to enjoy seeing and learning about the hats worn by royals and about millinery for its own sake. I particularly liked reading about royals other than the British, including some that I did not previously even know existed! Royal Hats as a whole was a refreshing change from other royal blogs I had previously found, that seemed to be devoted to saying nasty things about this or that person, and which I quickly stopped reading.
The respectful tone maintained by both HatQueen and those who comment is appreciated and places Royal Hats a cut above almost every other blog I’ve ever read. We may dislike a particular hat or say that it does not go well with the coat or dress, however we do not make critical remarks about the wearer’s weight or posture or complexion. (I’ll admit I sometimes don’t even like comments about the person’s hair, though I do recognize that a hairstyle affects the appearance of a hat, so in that respect, those are okay.) It is particularly good that we do not comment on young people because they are already under enough pressure. I’m sure that my own comments have often reflected an ignorance of the world of fashion, but I hope they have not reflected ignorance of empathy or human feeling. It is unfortunate that members of the Royal Family are studied and analyzed and reported on as if they were media stars when their roles are so different, but I guess that is the world we now live in. I hope that Meghan can find a place in her new life where these pressures will not weigh on her in that way.
And HatQueen, I hope you will continue to blog and maintain this little online world as the respectful and generally delightful place that it is!
Thanks, Matthew. I adore that we’ve turned you into a hat lover! And together, let’s keep watch that comments about a royal’s hair remain kind.
Coming late to the party, I agree with all the wonderful comments, but Bristol’s comment best sums up my feelings in a far more eloquent way than I am capable of writing. This blog has RE-taught me lessons in humility, tolerance, forgiveness, and a deeper global understanding of history and tradition. Royal Hats has been a part of my daily routine for almost exactly seven years now, (March 14, 2014) and at this point I can’t imagine a day without it!
Hat Queen, your 1954 Royal Tour blogs have been nothing less than spectacular! While not always adding to the conversation, I still found your time consuming research and knowledge awe-inspiring! Thank you so much for what you were able to accomplish; the blogs were highly entertaining for all of us!
Thanks, Jimbo. You have become a huge part of Royal Hats- I couldn’t imagine it without your input!
After a few days off, you’ve all inspired me to dive back into the 1954 tour.
I think there are huge problems in the relationship between royalty and the press (and now social media) in the modern world, and perhaps particularly with the British royal family as it seems to be the most widely covered around the world. Royal families need the media in order to do their work – both representing their countries and drawing attention to their good causes. But the media can also place huge pressures on them. It seems to me that the sort of coverage you provide is absolutely the positive sort that is always courteous and not destructive, HatQueen. Even when there are negative views of hats, I think all commentators (unless you are having to moderate a lot of them!) voice them as being just that, and not negative views of the wearers. (And I really don’t think you need to worry about the polls – it’s so clearly about hats, and most often there are several royals up against themselves!)
Anyone who loves hats will agree that millinery needs all the support and public exposure it can get. I think this is a lovely forum for the art and craft of hats, and basically sticks to discussing those who through their roles are by definition in the public eye. We can’t second guess how they are feeling, but I think you maintain the right tone so that it doesn’t in fact matter.
And finally, it’s clear from all the comments how very much all your readers value your blog, not only for the extraordinary amount you put into it, and for the extensive coverage of hats, but also as a civilised and positive place to spend time, which is a great endorsement of what you do! So, very many thanks, and more power to your elbow (or speed to your typing fingers…)
Courteous and not destructive is exactly where I want Royal Hats to be. Thanks so much for your comments and encouragement.
Dear Hat Queen, I read your blog regularly: it’s one of the ‘treats’ of my day, especially during lockdown. I love hats; I love wearing them and look good in them. I LOVE looking at the creative work of milliners around the world. As the most frequent wearers of headwear are members of first families, the choices made by their dressers are bound to be a bit ‘wonk’ sometimes. It may be that the more frequent wearers and older members of first families accept it as a uniform in which to do their work and don’t spend too much time worrying about the details. I meant no personal criticism of a wearer by a thought that a particular hat made her look like a sheep at the time – it just DID. I never use any online social interaction with strangers except with this blog. Long may you continue.
The reason I read this blog is because it’s a bit of pretty in a world that can sometimes be gloomy. We all congregate here to admire art, creativity and style. You champion milliners and show us that it’s not merely a head covering, but something that can be culturally significant and completely stylish. I have learned so much here, and have always felt this to be a place that is safe and respectful. You have been very clear that as long as we follow the rules and show respect to the milliners, the Royals and one another, we have a place where we can communicate with like minded individuals.
You have always been straight forward in your rules of respect, and that has trickled down to us. You’ve provided a very healthy forum to discuss a specific subset of Royalty. I appreciate all your hard work, history lessons, millinery definitions, polls and you asking us for clarity going forward. There have been some incredible discussions, and I’ve particularly enjoyed reader’s insights to millinery events they’ve attended, or Royal events that hold a special place in their heart. When a milliner pops into the comments, it’s like a celebrity has come to grace us with their talent. YOU did that Hat Queen. Hats off to you.
With all that has happened this past year with Covid-19, it’s a good reminder that we can all be more caring and sympathetic towards one another in our daily lives. You truly don’t know who is suffering internally. As AyBee pointed out, this is a place where we discover that “the other isn’t as scary or as different or as bad as (we) thought.” That’s exactly what we need more of right now.
Well said. And indeed- life has enough challenges and moments of beauty or espcape or fun are important.
I’m not sure I’ve share this but this blog was born out of a personal tragedy in my life and became a lifeline when I needed one most (thanks to my husband who first suggested I turn my nostalgia for a long-defunct blog on silly royal hats into writing something myself).
That’s a sweet story, HQ! If it wouldn’t be too painful, could you repost your very first blog entry, just for the nostalgic fun of it?
The first blog entry is actually quite boring but here you are!
The second post is here.
Your tenth anniversary is coming up later this year! No wonder you are so well-informed — you’ve had a lot of time to home your skills.
…except that tenth anniversary would be NEXT year! (After spending so long wanting to get to 2021, I find I’m already projecting into 2022.]
I think pandemic life has given many of us altered sense of time! I’m hoping we’ll be back to regularly seeing royal hats out and about by the time Royal Hats’ 10th anniversary rolls around in September 2022.
I haven’t posted before, but I love your blog – for the insights regarding the hats rather than the wearers. So truly I think it would be a great shame if the whole thing faltered due to the recent antics of some people. You always strike the right tone, and the polls are just harmless fun.
Don’t worry, Hatty- while I’ve momentarily faltered, this conversation is reaffirming Royal Hats’ original purpose- to share, learn and enjoy a common interest together.
This is a blog about millinery, not personal problems of the person(s) wearing them (although it is correct to be sympathetic and understanding of everyone). We all have problems of some kind, some more serious than others. If you start to analyze the lives of the people wearing the hats, then the purpose of the blog will be lost. Not to mention that you would be weighted down with tailoring your comments to the wearer’s personal struggles. I enjoy the pictures and the commentary here and appreciate your effort to share these creation with us! You have helped me to shape my own preferences and personal hat styles!
Helping each other shape our style preferences and personal hat style is a good thing! I’ve experienced the same myself, on the other end of the blog!
I love all the detail of your posts and their frequency. It is a great pleasure to visit your blog, snd obvious how much time and care you invest in your research and posting.
I do not believe for one second that Meghan was having suicidal depression issues, or that you should tiptoe around someone who does a “no holds barred” interview a year and a half later where they play victim, do not take responsibility for their on choices as adults, and throw everybody under the bus despite conflicting prior statements easily found when fact checked.
Your blog is wonderful. You have always been respectful. Not liking someone’s hat is fair. Not everything is to scale, or works properly with an outfit, or is flattering to the wearer’s face shape.
Please don’t second guess or sensor yourself. Your posts have always been kind and sensitive. Empress Masako is worthy of that. The other woman, who bailed on the BRF with less than 2 years in, not so much so.
Thanks for your compliments to me and Royal Hats.
I think it’s important that we believe what people tell us about their personal experience. As others have said, we don’t know what truly goes on in anyone’s life- royal or not – and I’m uncomfortable with offering kindness and care to one royal and not another.
I’ll leave your comment up for the sake of this discussion even though it’s not in keeping with Royal Hats commenting guidelines.
Thank you so much for all the work you consistently put in here. Your posts have been wonderful bright spots during this last long year. I agree with so much of what other commentators are sharing about the positive and hat-focused content which you produce–and encourage!–on this platform.
A question I’m wrestling with as we all digest this new phase: if it is so important to believe “what people tell us about their personal experience,” then should we not equally believe the account of the (much less powerful) women whose personal experience is of being bullied by her?
You are right to be “uncomfortable with offering kindness and care to one…and not another.” Would it not be more truly compassionate for us to extend grace and empathy to all parties who are hurting, and not conform our beliefs to a convenient ideological narrative (monarchies are toxic, if some criticism is racist then all criticisms must be racist, etc.) without a reasoned examination of the factual evidence for all sides?
As you refer to, there are big limits to what we on the outside can actually know. Maybe it’s fair to say that what we decide to actively believe, rather than simply be kind about, should be just as limited.
The problem with seeking “a reasoned examination of the factual evidence for all sides” is that those of us who are not personally acquainted with any of the involved persons (which I suspect applies to most if not all of the participants of this blog) — those of us who are only receiving our information through the media — cannot know what the factual evidence is for all sides. What we receive depends on the slant of whatever media we are reading/watching at the time, and the debate over what the facts really are can quickly devolve into the vicious arguments that I have encountered in many other royal blogs. That is why I feel that it is important for us to limit the focus of our discussions to the main purpose of Royal Hats, which is to examine, discuss and enjoy royal millinery, and perhaps related things like the rest of the ensemble, the venue in which an event is taking place or history of the event (or, yes, even the hairstyle!), and not venture at all into the territory of whether or not we believe news reports about any individual’s state of mind, as we cannot possibly realistically know that information.
I think that is a very wise suggestion Matthew. We can not possibly know what has been said or not, who meant what, etc. etc. If I can throw in some French: « On était pas là pour tenir la chandelle »: we were’t present to hold the candle. And, frankly speaking, it isn’t our business either.
I totally agree about the purpose of this blog, and am especially glad for how we can all benefit from those limits to the content and discussions here.
As HatQueen has noted, on this particular comment thread we are discussing the larger phenomena, both positive and negative, which this blog and its readers have to navigate. Therefore, the bulk of my comment above pertained to that larger navigation that we’re all dealing with elsewhere. Sorry, I should have worded that more clearly.
I really appreciate your thoughtful words!
We seem to be agreeing on the essential point re: my first comment—limiting what we believe is roughly equivalent to not venturing into whether we believe information that we cannot possibly realistically know.
Thank you for helping to advocate civility!
How perfectly stated and well written. I feel exactly the same way!
Wam regards, Elizabeth a British millinery lover from America
Dear Hat Queen, one of the reasons I follow this blog is that it has such clear guidelines, already recalled here by other commenters. I have a Twitter account but find I never use it. I’m hardly active on Face Book anymore, except for a few group activities (mostly millinery) and on Instagram, my favourite social media, I follow millinery, fashion and art accounts (plus the accounts of some friends and family). Reason for this is that there are so many posts which are insanely prejudiced, not only about royals, but also about politicians or any one who is a bit more «visible» than the average person. The tons of hateful, spiteful, stupid words that are let loose on the internet and in a certain category of «news» paper, are just unbearable and as I don’t know what to do about them, I try to avoid them. There just isn’t enough time in the day either to understand these comments or to try and refute them.
Another reason I follow this blog is that it is so well documented and that discussions branche out to the most unexpected topics. It’s readers/commenters are so international and enthusiastic, it is always a pleasure to read everyone’s thoughts and to learn new things, whether they be historical facts or local particularities.
I love hats and I love members of royal families for wearing them (in that order I’m afraid, though I have strong feelings about the Dutch monarchy). I’m very happy to have found this community to share my passion with. I’m not unfamiliar with certain mental health issues as mentioned by Jake and find it helpful to concentrate whenever possible on beautiful, colourful, positive things.
The British Royal Family take up a particular position, unlike any other royal family in the world, it seems to me. This is due to the country’s history and more specifically to its past military conquests. Each country has to come to terms with its own past and all peoples have to decide by whom they want to see themselves represented and in which way. In the Netherlands we have our own discussions about this and those discussions are always emotional, even when we think we are just stating facts. Some Dutch say it would be far more democratic to abolish the (our) monarchy, with the additionnel benefit that a presidential regime would be a lot cheaper for the country. I’ve lived in France for twenty-four years and know from experience that neither the one or the other are true!
I think that if Royalty wants to stay relevant, they have to keep up with the times. But we, as subjects or watchers, have to ask ourselves what we expect from them and if we are not asking the impossible. Clothing and accessories (especially hats) can be very powerful to help people play their role. They can help us play our roles in society, on the stage or in official functions. But underneath we are still people and we should all recognise each other as simple human beings. I think that if we write about the people underneath the hats as we would like to be written about ourselves, we are doing nobody any harm.
Indeed- well said, Wies. I appreciate your thoughtful words.
Like others here, I’m a lurker rather than a poster but, also like others, I visit this blog every day and very much look forward to seeing the hats, reading the comments and learning about the ‘bold, beautiful and bizarre’ world of royal millinery. Your impulse to step back and reflect on previous posts in the present context is only one more instance of your thoughfulness, HatQueen. I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s one the qualities we admire: not just the content of this blog but the way in which you conduct it. Thank you so much for your dedication, energy and inclusiveness.
The hat competitions aren’t ‘pitting one royal against another,” truly. We’re the ones expressing our views and sharing what others think and it’s that’s compeition, then we’re competiting with each other. I know zip about millinery but one thing I have learnt from this blog is that, frankly, some hats look better on some people; sometimes hat-wearers and their stylists ate the wrong thing for breakfast and make indigestible choices; some hats work, others don’t. It’s a revelation to see what might go wrong and a triumph when it all goes right.
So, let’s keep going. By all means, let’s revisit decisions or opinions as time goes by and/or information comes to light. Let’s keep including the the bold, the beautiful, the bizzare and the bonkers in royal hats. And, even though I’m an Australian, I reckon you’ve shown us more than enough of that 1954 Royal Tour: your research matches their itinerary and both are exhausting!
Thank you for such a considered post. I’ve been pondering this exact point myself, and have realised how my own actions have changed in the 12 years or so I’ve been following/commenting on royal blogs. Back when my comments would ever into comments about individuals’ personalities or body shapes. I don’t think it was ever nasty, but still I would use them for humour or just as a descriptor. I’ve long realised that’s unacceptable, (especially as a man), as is comparing royals or judging them for things I know nothing about. There are plenty of otherwise interesting pages on IG which I’ve had to unfollow for their shrieky, partisan and hate filled tones.
Yours is a rare sanctuary. You run it on such strict lines, and yet it feels it has become self moderating, as it has attracted a group of people who seem to feel the same. I think the conversation is about the frivolous, but we also often express admiration and respect for the people we discuss. (Of course it’s still absolutely fine to really not like a hat, or find fault with its finish!)
One thing I have thought is not just about the royals but about the milliners. I know there are those that make the hats who read the blog. And occasionally our views on their work can be quite strong. So I guess that’s also something we need to bear in mind too.
You are right, JamesB- the community that has developed here around Royal hats is wonderful. I do appreciate how self-moderating it has become.
And a good reminder not just to be mindful how we speak of those wearing royal hats, but also those who create them.
I visit this page daily and love the posts and the contributions.
I agree with others that there is no harm in voicing our opinion on the hats displayed, whether it be praise for the design or criticism for the workmanship failings of a piece, the choice with a particular outfit, or the suitability for the wearer.
As for the competitions, I see no harm there either. Our royal hat wearers come in all ages, body types and levels of dynastic importance and self confidence, and all of these things influence their hat choices. We are similarly diverse, which influences the styles that appeal to us. We may have our favourite royal and we also may be secretly swayed by what we might look good on ourselves. In the end, we are all looking for the hat and ensemble that causes us to stand up and say “Brava! You couldn’t look lovelier”and are delighted when we find one.
I agree with everything already said here. This blog is so well written and researched and the atmosphere is so respectful. Coming here every day is a highlight of my day.
I’ve been thinking since the interview on TV last night about how we never really know what a royal is thinking or feeling. They might look happy in photos but we have no idea about what is really going on in their life. It’s a good reminder not to read too much into pictures. They just don’t tell the whole story.
I agree with you, Trish!
This is one of my favourite blogs. I love how we can share different opinions about hats without putting each other down. I learn so much from the things other people see in hats that I don’t notice myself!! I love how regular readers are welcomed to share guest posts (I still can’t believe I wrote one myself!!) and no one covers a royal wedding like you do!
You asked how you can continue Royal hats “in a way that is healthy and empowering for all.” I think if you keep doing what you are doing, taking care not to pit royals against each other, this blog will remain as entertaining, education and interesting as it already is.
Where do polls fit with “not pitting royals against each other?”
And this is a good opportunity for me to thank all of the readers who have contributed guest posts. I so appreciate them!
I see the polls very much as competitions between hats, not their wearers. I think as long as we remember the distinction between, “I don’t like this hat” and, “I don’t like this person”, it needn’t be an issue.
I hope you choose to continue. It brings attention to millinery as a creative pursuit. Both to milliners doing wonderful professional work and inspire more of us to incorporate hats into our life and create our own hats DIY as an expressive craft.
Inspiring more of us to incorporate hats into our lives- how can we do that more?
I love the calot shape hat and found several 1950’s era ones on Etsy and EBay. I started wearing them and have gotten only positive comments and encouragement on my “style”. I love all kinds of hats and my pride and joy is a cream colored silk sun hat from Lock and Company that took two months to arrive in Southern California from London. The box is huge but it keeps it safe and clean and in perfect shape. Just like anyone can serve, anyone can have style!
I just received a parcel today containing the supplies for the hat I am making to wear to my niece’s wedding in May! I could not be more excited to make and wear it, I was able to support a fantastic small business and my nieces and nephews find my enthusiasm for their nuptials and the hat wearing to add to the joy of the occasion. It IS a wonderful thing.
This is a blog for millinery only, as far as I am concerned, and as such it has been a source of inspiration and education, for which I thank you HQ and all of the contributors to this blog.
Not going there when it comes to issues that may be interesting regarding the British Royal Family, aired in the US today.
Your assessment of Megan’s hat on Commonwealth Day was spot on, HQ!
I look forward to my royal hats every evening – after a long day – serving men experiencing homelessness. I love the comments, the different stories and oh the hats!!! I love when you have something that people find and add to. Like the latest in flowers on hats. Each day for a few I will come back and hope there are more new hat entries. I always say – when we know better we do better. I belive I stole that from someone – I forget who it was. But words to live by. Thank you!!!
And we can do even better, together!
I only remember one time some years ago when a comments section got a bit heated based on speculation, but HatQueen, you were quick to call things back to order. Since then, I don’t recall anything I would consider problematic, and your commenting policy is very clear, which you have repeated many times over the years just to be safe. Like Janae said, I also remember when you placed a boycott on the awful Daily Mail, which I applauded (and still do). Additionally, I’m so glad to see you include coverage of royals from Japan, Lesotho, Bhutan, Jordan, Thailand, and elsewhere, something I usually don’t see in most traditional royal-watching circles (which are usually European, and especially British, focused).
I love this blog and have found it a refuge among everything terrible in our world. The community here has been wonderful; I’m certain we don’t agree on everything (hats or otherwise), but I believe respect has been a guiding light for us all. Some of us have favorite royals (myself included), but overall I haven’t seen the “royal celebrity” factor creep in here nearly as much as it has in most other places (at least based on my casual observations).
Finally, as someone who does suffer from mental health issues and is in therapy, I am continually grateful for the positivity Royal Hats has given to my life and am glad for the support you all have offered me (and for others) over the years. I don’t admit this for attention or to say I’m better than others, but because I think mental health is still a barrier and stigma for too many, and I’m trying not to contribute to it further by remaining silent after struggling with the stigma myself for almost 2 decades (I also know getting access to mental health care is usually an expensive nightmare, at least in the US where I am). I know in the past many of my critiques have been harsh, perhaps too much so, which I apologize for; this is part of my mental health struggle: that I focus too much on the negative and forget the positive, which unfortunately comes out in most parts of my life. I’m doing my best to be critical but in a better way moving forward. I’m also glad to hear Royal Hats is continuing, because I don’t know what I would do otherwise!
Thank you HatQueen for offering this space, and also holding up the mirror to ourselves so we can improve the good community we have built here so far.
Thanks, Jake, for sharing your thoughts, particularly about mental health stigma and inclusion. I’m deeply honoured that Royal Hats has brought positivity to you. Inclusion in our conversations about hats IS important and you offer a good reminder to keep including the royals and royal houses who aren’t always included in mainstream royal coverage.
I think it’s also OK to be honest when we don’t like a hat- there need to be room for opinions when we critique art. As you mention, a vast majority of conversations here are guided by respect and if we all work together to keep that happening, we can still have frank discussions about even the hats we don’t like!
HatQueen, your critique of hats has been that – critique of the fashion and not the people wearing it. And the tone of the discussion maintains this. That is why I enjoy and learn from this blog and this community.
I admire you for taking the time to speak honestly and thoughtfully about how any of us uses social media, and being conscious of the impacts we may have. This thoughtfulness and attention is a hallmark of your work. Thank you for your reflection, your work, and a good reminder.
Thank you, Catherine.
I am so impressed by all the comments thus far, but especially AyBee’s point about having an opportunity to share a common interest. Dearest HatQueen, I can’t think of how you would do things differently when you are already so true to your guidelines:
“…. Personal attacks on anyone, royal or non-royal, are not acceptable. This includes speculation about a royal’s character or level of taste and remarks about body type. There is zero tolerance for all comments that include racist or harassing content. Fun, wit, questions, disagreement and sarcasm is welcome as long as the overall tone remains respectful.”
There is, indeed, something valuable about sharing common interests. Thanks for the reminder!
First up, this blog is awesome for all the reasons people have already said. I sometimes wish you were snarkier about the bad royal hats! LOL!
I follow you on Twitter Hat Queen and you’re forgetting that you were one of the first bloggers or royal reporters to call out the Daily Mail’s racist headlines about Meghan when she and Harry were first dating. YOU CALLED IT OUT. So you are not the problem. The Stans and the grey suits in the palace (ahem Prince Charles) are the problem. Fashion is fashion and we’re all gonna follow it no matter what. You remind us to be kind about it.
Can’t wait for whatever your new endeavor is! Let it be Royal Shoes PLEASE.
Thanks, Janae. And no- there’s no plans for Royal Shoes!! But the suggestion give me a great giggle.
I’m afraid I don’t see how comments like “The Stans and the grey suits in the palace (ahem Prince Charles) are the problem” are “kind” or “healthy and empowering to all.”
Emily – Thank you for saying this.
Indeed, Emily, you are right. I should have addressed this in my earlier response. I’m leaving all comments up here for the sake of discussion but agree that this is not in keeping with Royal Hats’ comment guidelines.
I am a regular reader, but not usually a commenter. I hope you will continue to blog about the hats on Royal heads. What this world is lacking right now is empathy, civility, and the desire to understand “the other”. It has become more fun/profitable to attack people. Unfortunately, social media has made this even easier for “professionals” journalists as well as us “ordinary” folks. I think spaces like this blog help bring people from disparate backgrounds together to talk about a common interest and hopefully find that “the other” isn’t as scary or as different or as bad as they thought. That does put the burden on you to enforce civility, when necessary, but it should not be too much to ask your readers to behave in a civil and respectful manner and to keep the comments focused on the hats and celebrating what is good.
If Royal Hats can continue to be a place where, through sharing, we all “find that ‘the other’ isn’t as scary or as different or as bad as they thought” that’s reason alone to keep going! As mentioned in the post, I’m not planning to stop (although I might give up on the1954 Australia tour series which has been VERY difficult and time consuming to research!). I was simply thinking about how I’m contributing to a celebrity royal culture where a strong, intelligent and talented woman was so demoralized she contemplated ending her life. That’s not a culture I want to be contributing to.
I forgot to add when I commented earlier: the Australian tour recap has been lovely, but, for heaven’s sake, if it’s taking that much time and effort, give it up!
Very late to the discussion I’m sorry, but can I add to the many other people here in congratulating you on your wonderful blog. For me, fashion is yet another form of art and art is always going to be critiqued, for better or worse. People will always have differing views, it’s the way those views are expressed that is so important and your blog is always respectful and thoughtful. You and the people commenting here focus on the art of the hat, not on the person wearing it.
I think your writing has brought together a wonderful group of people from around the world who are really interested and curious about the art of millinery, so thank you and may you enjoy many more years on this blog.
Appreciate your thoughtfulness on these complex issues. I hope that you do continue to blog, as I learn about different events and charities through your work, just as royalty shines a light on them through appearances and patronages.
To clarify- I am planning to continue Royal Hats. I think the question I’m asking is how to continue in the healthiest possible way for all.
I seldom post here but I am an avid reader. I find your posts and commentary exceedingly respectful of all parties. Even when you don’t like a hat, you take great pains to say so in a very kind manner, often couching it in ways it could be better. I don’t think you’ve ever been mean spirited on this blog.
I am a regular reader/lurker. I have been struck for years by the respectful tone you take in your posts, and that sets the example for the intelligent and thoughtful conversations that go on in the comments, as well as the guest bloggers. While I admire your desire to step back and examine things critically and make sure you are not contributing to the problem, I think this blog has always taken a kind, fun, and positive approach. Even when you don’t like a hat, a critique of colour or design never becomes about the person wearing it. Everyone is examined with the same eye, I would be hard pressed to say who are your favourites, for lack of a better word. This is one of my favourite royal blogs for that reason.
Thanks. It’s good to hear that my intent- for the focus here to always remain the hats- carries through to you dear readers.
I find your blog very interesting. Hats are fashion and art and all worthy fashion and art deserve to be looked at and commented on with a critical eye. Otherwise how does the art form move forward. Commenting on fashion is not personal commentary and I find your blog as well as a few others that I read to be informative and respectful. Thank you
Thanks for making these insightful points. Writing Royal Hats has made me come to sincerely see handmade millinery as wearable art and indeed, as you say, art requires viewing and critique to move forward.
I am not an avid poster, in fact I probably commented three times! I do vote in your polls. I really enjoy all the hard work that you put towards the creation of this blog, I find your guest bloggers equally interesting. It takes a lot of time, money and effort. I look forward to your next endeavors.