During this year’s summer lull, we’re going to look at a number of royal hat topics and events we can’t get to during busier times in the royal calendar. This will include a few looks back at Ascot hats, starting today with all those worn by the late Princess Diana. Over the 11 years of her royal life, Princess Diana wore made 23 Ascot appearances in 22 different hats.
1981: Four John Boyd designs including a white veiled hat (the under the chin veil is unique, isn’t it!) and prim tomato red hat with velvet hatband and large white flower at the back, both with short brims. A wider brimmed cream straw small-scale bergere with peach carnations and lilac straw hat with ostrich plume wrap round out the hats Lady Diana wore in 1981, a month before her wedding.
1982: Pale pink silk-covered hat with cuffed brim trimmed with a side ruffle by John Boyd in 1982, just before Prince William’s birth
1984: On a Canadian tour during Ascot 1983, she returned in 1984 while expecting Prince Harry in a hat with rounded crown covered in the same dotted peach silk as her dress, with a wide cream transparent crin brim.
1985: A bolder black and white hat with asymetrical brim and a repeat of the peach silk and cream crin hat from 1984 with a view of it’s fantastic brim.
1986: A streamlined cream straw wide-brimmed boater with pleated hatband; a graphic white hourglass shaped hat with black domed crown and bowed hatband; and another of the trendy polka-dot ensembles she wore that year, this one in high contrast jade and black with a dotted silk covered crown and wide, black straw cartwheel brim.
1987: Even bigger brims! A cream picture hat with pale bow and floral trim on June 16; a vibrant blue design with ruched hatband and large bow on June 17; and a white picture hat with kettle brim and navy hatband by Philip Somerville on June 18 (while unconfirmed, I suspect the first two were Somerville designs as well).
1988: A striking straw hat with striped black and white brim on June 14; more polka dots, this time in black and white on a wide brimmed design with slim black hatband on June 15; and a white Philip Somerville hat with rounded crown and wide, gently upturned brim on June 16
1989: Dramatic electric blue ruched turban with oblique white brim and feather trim on June 20; a wide brimmed pink picture hat with pork pie crown and upturned brim at the back on June 22
1990: Two Philip Somerville designs- the purple “pagoda” hat with red hatband on on June 19 and a pale pink straw Breton with tall, upturned brim edged in a wide purple stripe on June 20
1991: Wide brimmed black straw hat with upturned kettle brim and wide silk hatband on June 18; A textured hat in natural straw with square crown and kettle brim lavishly tucked with silk flowers in shades of pink and cream on June 19
1992: A navy straw lampshade hat with wide mint stripe around the brim, hatband and twee bow on June 16; a high-contrast fuchsia straw picture hat with graphic black hatband and stripes around the upturned brim on her June 17
I’m struck by a few things here- first, is the slow increase of brim sizes during the mid 1980s until 1987, when they really couldn’t have been any bigger! The small hats she wore during the first years of her marriage were quickly replaced by larger designs- not surprising, I suspect as she honed her style through her early 20s. From 1985 forward, there’s a breadth of shapes, styles and colours here, many of which require a fair bit of confidence to carry off. It’s a bolder group of hats than I expected.
What do you think of Princess Diana’s hats worn to Royal Ascot?