Ethiopian Royal Hats Part IV: Visits With Foreign Royals

I’m so pleased to welcome back longtime reader, hat aficionado (follow him on Instagram or Twitter) and friend of Royal Hats, Jake Short, for the fourth post in a 5-part series on the history and hats of the Ethiopian Imperial Family (see Part 3 here).  

Visits With Foreign Royals

State and official visits to Ethiopia and abroad were also more common during the later decades of Haile Selassie’s reign. In 1954 the Emperor, along with his youngest son Prince Sahle Selassie and granddaughter Princess Seble Desta (daughter of Princess Tenagnework), visited President Dwight D. and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower in Washington, DC (a clearer photo of this meeting can be seen here). Another visit to DC in 1963 saw the Emperor in a military cap and Princess Ruth Desta in a typical 1960s domed turban, while US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore a pillbox hat (seen here in color).

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Haile Selassie visited the Netherlands in 1954 and was photographed holding a plumed ceremonial military hat while Queen Juliana wore a calot with swooping feather trim.

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Fifteen years later In January 1969, Queen Juliana reciprocated with a state visit to Ethiopia, accompanied by Prince Bernhard, Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus. For their arrival in Addis Abeba, Haile Selassie wore a formal bicorn hat while Juliana wore a black hat with woven halo brim studded with turquoise flowers. Princess Beatrix wore a tall, patterned turban.  


During this visit, these wonderful photos were captured with the Emperor in his military cap and Queen Juliana in turbans- one covered in pleated ruffles and the other, smooth.

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During this trip, Queen Juliana was photographed at a children’s hospital in a capulet hat made of chunky, textured braid that was popular at the time. Another day, she repeated the black straw halo brimmed hat (with turquoise flowers removed!) while Princess Beatrix wore a white plaited pillbox.  On January 31, 1969, Queen Juliana wore a dark bumper hat while Princess Beatrix wore a navy brimmed hat in chunky navy straw braid with navy hatband tied in a side bow. Finally, Queen Juliana donned another turban for a visit to the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral; Princess Beatrix paired a white and black pinstriped dress with a dark hat with wide, upturned brim

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King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece visited Addis Ababa in 1959. Here they are seen with the Emperor and Empress, all wearing hats suited to their rank and typical for that time.

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A decade later in 1969, the Emperor met Pope Paul VI, who wore a white zucchetto skullcap.

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Again in his military cap, Haile Selassie is seen with other royals at a ceremony in Iran in 1971 to celebrate 2,500 years of the Persian Empire; Queen Fabiola and King Baudouin of Belgium (with Princess Anne of the UK behind them), Queen Ingrid and King Frederik of Denmark, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece (behind Emperor Haile Selassie), and Shah Reza Pahlavi and Shahbanou Farah Diba of Iran can be seen wearing hats (many more royals were also in attendance at this grand event).

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Relations with the Japanese Imperial Family, another reigning imperial family, were cordial and saw multiple visits. Haile Selassie visited Japan in 1956 with his eldest daughter Princess Tenagnework (seated, wearing a veiled calot), her daughter Princess Aida Desta (wearing a feathered casque hat), and Prince Makonnen, Duke of Harar. Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen and Crown Princess Medferiashwork visited Japan in 1959; while neither wore hats during a duck hunting session, their hosts Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko did. Crown Princess Medferiashwork was seen during this same visit in a toque-like hat during a visit to a department store.

Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko visited Ethiopia in 1960, with Akihito (carrying a top hat) being formally received by Emperor Haile Selassie at the airport. Crown Princess Medferiashwork wore a calot while she and Michiko visited a girls’ school; Medferiashwork was later seen in a headscarf when she accompanied Michiko and Akihito (both in hats) on a visit to Mt. Entoto just north of Addis Ababa.

Finally, there were multiple interactions with the British Royal Family. A 1954 state visit to the UK by the Emperor and his son the Duke of Harar began at Victoria Station, where Queen Elizabeth II greeted Haile Selassie, who wore a ceremonial military hat trimmed with lion’s mane!

The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Princess Mary, and Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester, who all wore calots typical of the mid-1950s.

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The Queen wore a petaled/feathered calot as she, the Emperor, and the Duke of Edinburgh traveled to Buckingham Palace.

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A 1965 visit to Ethiopia by the Queen and Prince Philip saw only military hats from the host royals (the Empress had died in 1962, and there is a lack of photos of other female royals to determine their level of participation in the visit). 

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Queen Elizabeth, as you’d expect, wore several hats during this visit.

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While the visit saw no royal hats otherwise, there were many instances of tribal hats and headpieces worn by those who came to meet the royal guests.

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Another informative post, Jake- thank you! The Ethiopian princesses’ calots and half hats during the Japanese visit (and reciprocal visit five years later) are beautiful examples of fashion of the time! It’s also a fascinating reminder how millinery styles changed (inflated!) from the 1950s to the 1960s! How well did Queen Juliana’s cream turban pair with her 1960s sunglasses?! Such a fun look!

Jake returns next week for the final post in this series. 

Images from Getty and BNA Photographic

8 thoughts on “Ethiopian Royal Hats Part IV: Visits With Foreign Royals

  1. Embed from Getty Images

    • When I first put this post together, I contemplated including this photo, but at the only royal hat visible was on Juliana, it didn’t seem relevant enough. Also, it feels very strange/awkward to have the Emperor, a Black man, sitting with an empty seat between him and other royals who are all White. I assume there is a reason (unclear what it is though), but visually this didn’t sit well with me for many reasons.

      I hope people are enjoying the series otherwise. And thanks Cheetah for your kind words about this post.

    • The occasion was the memorial service for Charles De Gaulle in Notre Dame Cathedral Paris in November 1970. The empty place was for the Shah of Iran who arrived just after this photo was taken.

  2. Every time period has its own style, but I don’t think I’ll ever jump on the turban bandwagon. They remind me of my grandmother’s swimming cap, which had little colored plastic flowers all over it. On the other hand, as we see in the first picture, a pillbox is chic and timeless.
    Thanks again Jake for all your research – these were photos I have never seen before.

  3. Thanks HatQueen for the many additional photos/videos, especially of the Dutch state visit to Ethiopia; I do my best on Getty to find ones that are embeddable so people can see them on here, but guess I can widen my search next time haha.

    A couple additional photos I found just last week:
    Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (mother of the current Duke) wore a plaited straw brimmed hat when she and the Duke visited Ethiopia in November 1958 (Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, had attended the coronation in 1930, if you remember):
    Embed from Getty Images

    This photo isn’t embeddable, but here’s one of Haile Selassie and Akihitio at a duck hunt, the Emperor wearing a homburg while the Crown Prince dons a fedora:

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