Queen Elizabeth’s Commonwealth Day Service Hats

My thanks to reader Jimbo, for researching and organizing photos for this post. 

As head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth has, since the late 1990s, attended the Commonwealth Day Service with members of her family held annually on the second Monday in March at Westminster Abbey. While the global pandemic cancelled this year’s service, let’s look back at all the hats she has worn to this event over the years:

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1972, 1976 (see colour image here), 1982, 1983 and 1985 (see colour image here)

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1989 (see colour image here), 1991, 1996 and 1997; 1998 – 2001

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2003, 2004 and 2005; 2006 through 2009

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Blue bumper cloche in 2010; Peach boucle hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan in 2011; pink hat with stitched brim in 2012

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Pink Rachel Trevor Morgan hat with rose in 2014; woven cream and gold split crown design by Angela Kelly in 2015:
Blue felt Angela Kelly design with feather flowers in 2016

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Angela Kelly designs- yellow and grey in 2017 and oxblood with cherry blossoms in 2018

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Purple felt kettle brim design with burgundy flowers by Angela Kelly in 2019; blue and grey felt sidesweep with bow and feathers by Rachel Trevor Morgan in 2020 

These retrospectives always give and interesting view of a royal’s evolution of millinery style. This lineup reminds me that Her Majesty embraced the early 2000s lampshade shapes (so popular at the time) more than I remembered, and how this shape quietly transitioned to the gentler sidesweeping brims that permeate her wardrobe today.

What do you notice in this lineup of hats?

Images from Getty as indicated

16 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth’s Commonwealth Day Service Hats

  1. Thank you Jimbo and HatQueen……what a marvelous retrospective, and a lot of work to pull it all together no doubt!
    So nice to look back at many of these hats on HM…..it’s like a visit with old friends!

    She certainly has worn a gamut of looks (and colors) on these occasions over the years — so many classics, and a few clinkers. Wonderful to see the inadvertent brooch parade as well.
    It would be interesting to know how many of these hats were debuts on Commonwealth Day, vs. encores…..not that MrFitzroy is suggesting anyone take on that project!

    • MrFitzroy, thanks for dangling the carrot on such a perfect day here; it’s raining outside, so no yard cleanup can be done, and I just used Easter’s ham bone to make a big pot of soup – you’re welcome to join.
      Of the 31 hats in today’s post, I could not find earlier wearings for 11 of them! All others were encores from previous outings. Listed here are the 11 years that could be premier outings, and maybe not.
      1972, (I’m now confident that this hat is black, since HM’s coat is the same black one she wore to her uncle’s funeral on June 5, 1972) 1982, 1983, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2018. No obvious pattern developed, as far as I can tell. I wonder if HQ has more information about these 11. I’ll save my research work, in case anyone is interested in more details.

      • Jimbo you are amazing, thank you!
        It seemed many of them were repeats (or at least familiar hats), but had no idea what the ratio might be. With this being such a major occasion for HM, one might think there would be more debuts — but on the other hand, she loves her trusty repeats on important occasions too!

        I hope the weather is improving there…..we awoke to 8″ of fresh snow this morning (not a happy Fitzroy here!), a rather cruel trick of late spring off-grid mountain living, but warmer spring temps are back next week, which is encouraging.
        Enjoy the soup — my task is using up the boiled/colored eggs here!

  2. Four hats stand out to me. My absolute favorite one is the pink Rachel Trevor Morgan hat in 2014 with that beautiful rose! The other one to catch my eye is the cream hat with bow and some other straw like trimming in 2007. Thirdly I like the soft pink with feathers of 2008 with that lovely window pane pink coat. And last, but not least I love the peach colored Rachel Trevor Morgan hat of 2011. I guess I am not in a retro mood today!

  3. Not being able to find a color photo of the first year, I noticed that the date for 1972 is February 6. Could HM actually be wearing black, in mourning? Another source dated the first Commonwealth Day as June 2, followed by June 3rd Trooping the Colour, followed by a Royal funeral on June 5 (Edward, Duke of Windsor). Sometimes the dates get jumbled: 2-6-72 or 6-2-72.
    As for the 1982 corduroy hat, HM wore it again on July 24, 1982 for the King George VI and Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot, but alas, the only available photos are still b/w.
    I must have missed 2 years, I’m sorry.

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    • Not your omission, Jimbo- Getty has been persnickety today and for some reason, not all photos have been consistently showing up.

      I’m trying to think- who died in early 1972? The Duke of Windsor passed away in May that year and I can’t think of anyone else.

          • I could imagine her wearing black for an engagement on the anniversary of her father in 1972. It could have been navy blue though. She doesn’t usually have engagements on that day and in latter years has spent the day quietly at Sandringham. I think Christmases in the 70s were still spent at Windsor. Usually the day after the anniversary is when her Xmas break ends and she returns to London.

            1991 and 2018 are stand-out hats for me. I’m amazed that the 1991 hat is thirty years ago it seems like yesterday.

  4. The Commonwealth Service is reportedly one of HM’s favorite events, and her devotion to its attendance shows! 2018’s oxblood and cherry blossom hat will probably be my forever favorite hat from this grouping (we DCers love our cherry blossoms!). The variety of hat shapes is considerable, and so are the color/shade/trim choices; perhaps this is a subtle reflection on the diversity of the Commonwealth as well? Thanks HatQueen and Jimbo for this great retrospective!

  5. Overall conclusion: this lady knows how to wear a hat.
    With occasional lapses, such as in 1982 – a corduroy mixing bowl??
    I especially like her white and coral hats (2004, 2014), and that oxblood number from 2018 is a striking success that is distinct from her usual pastels.

  6. What stands out to me is Her Majesty’s steadfast devotion and her simply being there so faithfully through so many years. Thank you for this striking reminder.

  7. For some reason, I was unable to open many of the links. I would like to gently say I did and do think the earlier designs were much nicer and kinder for the Queen than the ones she wears today. For one thing they allowed us to see her face.

  8. Oh this is so fun! I love the sharp classic shape of the red hat from 1991. And I love the pale blue from 2009. The round button like trim and the graceful pleats are just wonderful.

    It’s also interesting to me how much more variety in shape and style there is before 2010 than after. Even if you look just a decade at a time, the 2010s really is by far the most uniform.

  9. Thank you Jimbo and Hat Queen for this retrospective.

    I quite like the navy hat with feather spray from 2000. It’s a hat I’m unfamiliar with and the shape is very attractive on Her Majesty.

    The green 2001 hat is very similar to the pink 2002 hat in terms of shape, and it seems those were the only years she tried that new design.

    The 1982 hat also stands out for me as the shape is different and I’m curious what the color is.

    What does stand out is Her Majesty always looks delighted at this event.

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