Royal Hats In Washington: Afghanistan, Oman, UAE and Qatar

We continue an extended 2022 series on different royal hats that have been worn on visits to Washington, D.C. researched and written by Jake Short, longtime reader, hat aficionado (follow him on Instagram or Twitter) and dear friend of Royal Hats. Jake, it’s so great to have you back to continue with the fourth post in this series!  

In the US, when one mentions royalty, the British Royal Family is almost always the first to come to most people’s minds. If not them, then usually it’ll be another European royal family. But of the 29 independent monarchies that exist today (when one groups the UK and Commonwealth realms together), 13 are in Asia, and 7 of those are in the Middle East. Today we will look at the headwear of 3 of these countries: Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). But first, let’s take a quick historical look at Afghanistan.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan was an Emirate and later a Kingdom until 1973 when a coup d’etat overthrew King Mohammed Zahir Shah while he was out of the country for medical treatments. After the Taliban regime was overthrown in late 2001, Zahir Shah was able to return to Afghanistan, being named “Father of the Nation”, a title he held until his death in 2007 (while not in DC, Zahir Shah can be seen in a karakul hat alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2004).

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In September 1963, the King and Queen Humaira Begum visited DC, first arriving at Langley Field (now Langley Air Force Base) in southeastern Virginia and the Queen was seen wearing a white 1960s style cloche/peach basket hat and sunglasses in the video below. The next day they arrived at the White House for an official welcome ceremony that saw the Queen in a typical 1960s turban and President Kennedy’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver can be seen wearing a subtle netted veil over her hair (First Lady Jackie Kennedy was still recovering after the loss of their newborn son Patrick only a month earlier).

Oman

In March 1938, Sultan Said bin Taimur of Oman visited DC and was the first Arab head of state to do so in an official visit. The Sultan arrived at Union Station wearing a colorful and patterned massar turban, and later met Vice President John Nance Gardner wearing the same massar. The massar is distinct to Oman and is quite different from most headwear in the Gulf states; it is usually made of wool (often imported from India) and can be wrapped around the kuma cap to help give it more structure. The massar and kuma cup are often more colorful as well (as was seen on reigning Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said during the recent Belgian visit to Oman).

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Sultan Qaboos bin Said visited DC only once during his almost 50-year reign before he died in early 2020. In 1983 he wore a pure white massar when arriving at the White House and later wore a colorful one during a state dinner with the Reagans. You can see both in action in this video of the Sultan’s visit.

United Arab Emirates

As the name suggests, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain), each led by its own sheikh (an honorific title used by many Arabian royals), and in turn one of the sheikhs serves as President (Raʾīs) of the UAE for a 5 year term (although usually the president is from Abu Dhabi and the prime minister is from Dubai). The Emirati we at Royal Hats are most familiar with (thanks to Royal Ascot) is current UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, former husband of Jordanian Princess Haya.

Photographed visits to DC by Emirati royals have been intermittent, and those featuring headwear (based on what I found) are restricted to the wearing of the keffiyeh, also known as the ghutrah, with an agal (I will discuss these in more detail in a future post focused on Saudi Arabia).

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, can be seen in a white keffiyeh secured by a black agal in visits to the White House in 2011 and 2015.

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Mohammed’s older half-brother Khalifa, the current Raʾīs of UAE, visited the White House in 1998 when he was still Crown Prince, also wearing a keffiyeh.

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2003 saw a visit from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai to the National Building Museum in central DC wearing another white keffiyeh. Crown Prince Mohammed of Dubai’s younger brother Sheikh Hamdan wore yet another keffiyeh at the White House in 2003.

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Qatar

The former Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, can be seen in a keffiyeh in 1997 below and in 2003 alongside is son.

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Emir Hamad abdicated in 2013 in favor of his son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who visited the White House in 2015, seen below. In a break from the keffiyehs, Hamad’s wife and Tamim’s mother Sheikha Moza can be seen in a subdued navy turban and outfit during a visit to the Capitol building in 2019.

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While the headwear from these royals wasn’t as numerous or varied as some, they still warrant their own mentions, especially as we might be familiar with what they look like, but may not always understand their significance or who is wearing them. I hope you enjoyed this journey through the hats of most of the Middle Eastern royal families while they were in DC!

A fascinating start, Jake, complete with an unexpected dose of imposters and mystery! Those small hats worn by the Duchess of Windsor are wonderfully chic. This is such an informative series, Jake, and so well researched. I’ve said before that most of Royal Hats’ focus is on hats worn by women in the European and Imperial royal houses and this provides an insightful look at royal houses where headwear is primarily worn by men. I found your introduction of the massar hat of Oman particularly fascinating. Thank you so much, Jake, for this series.

Images from Getty as indicated  

Ascot Day 4: Dubai Royals

Members of Dubai’s ruling family attended the fourth day of racing at Royal Ascot again today.

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Princess Haya topped her black floral dress with an edgy black silk headpiece. Built on a flat base, the design features curling black silk outer petals that layer toward the silk bloom’s center of rolled silk flowers studded with black beads. It’s an interesting design for Haya that reminds me of this similar headpiece she wore, also to Ascot, back in 2016.  Sheikh Mohammad, as usual, repeated his black silk top hat.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat is new
The family celebrated another victory with Sheikha Al Jalila’s horse, Old Persion, winning the King Edward VII Stakes. Jalila collected her winning cup in a bandeau headpiece of layered red straw bow loops in the same vibrant red as her dress. While the young royal shows great maturity and poise, we need to remember she is not yet eleven years old- I thought this headpiece was wonderful on her (she wears the colour red incredibly well, just like her mother!) and hit just the right note between her youth and the formality of this event.
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Designer: Alexandra Harper Millinery
Previously Worn: This hat is new
 What do you think of this trio of hats?
Photos from Getty as indicated

Ascot Day 2: Dubai Royals

Members of Dubai’s royal family attended the races again today to watch horses from their stables run. Princess Haya topped her textured cream dress with a close-fitting straw Juliette cap embellished with a dotted net veil. The hat’s unique take on this style, worn on the side of the head as almost a percher, suits Haya well, and the contrast with her dark hair makes the cream ensemble work.

Sheikha Al Jalila topped her pink dress with a headpiece covered in silk flowers. It’s a sweet and very age appropriate design for the ten and a half year old, whose nervous expression with her mother, above, was caught during a race when one of her own ponies was running.


Designer: I’m guessing Philip Treacy
Previously Worn: This hat is new
Sheikh Mohammad, captured in a sweet moment above with his daughter, repeated his black silk top hat. Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince who is shown in the top photograph, wore a grey felt top hat. 
Photos from Getty as indicated

Ascot Day 1: Dubai Royals

With several horses racing at Royal Ascot this week from their Godolphin stables, it was no surprise to see members of Dubai’s ruling family at the races today. Princess Haya wore a large, invisible cream straw disc hat- invisible, thanks to an oversize silk flower trimming the top and back of the hat. The design is completed with a cream crin brim that falls into a gentle mushroom shape, and cream straw and crin twists at the back.


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Designer: Philip Treacy- bespoke version of OC 294 from SS 2017. Roland Mouret ‘Etty’ dress.
Previously Worn: This hat is new 
In the charming photo above, Princess Haya’s youngest child, Sheikh Zayed Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, is seen at his Ascot debut. Zayed looked adorably handsome in a black silk top hat. In the lower photo below, he is led by Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan.
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Zayed’s older sister, Sheikha Al Jalila, who first attended Ascot last year, topped her royal blue dress with a lavender irredescent headpiece with star-shaped floral cutouts. The modern piece is a great scale on the young royal and the hue is so pretty against her colouring.


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Designer: bespoke Alexandra Harper Millinery
Previously Worn: This hat is new
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, clearly pleased after his horse Blue Point ran to victory in the King’s Stand Stakes with jockey William Buick, repeated his black silk top hat. His young son looks, based on these photos, like he needs some time to fully embrace hat wearing! So sweet.
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Photos from social media and Getty as indicated

Epsom Derby Day 2018

The Investec Derby Festival was held at Epsom Downs Racecourse today and as in years past, a number of royal spectators were in attendance. Queen Elizabeth repeated her lavender straw hat with tall crown and flat brim, trimmed with silk leaves and peony blooms.

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It has been four years since this hat’s last outing and today’s reappearance reminds me of some of its best features- the delicate, trimmed green feather leaves, the perfect summery shade of purple, and the wonderful contrast provided by those silk peonies. The crown is slightly higher than what we usually see on the Queen but the molded shape is unique and balanced by its diagonal slope and the wide straw hatband.

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An interesting note, the coat paired with this hat today is usually paired with a different purple hat (see here). Coat swaps aside, the floral trim on the hat clearly links with the ensemble’s floral print dress- a mix I think works best with a glimpse of the dress peeking out from the coat rather than side by side, although it’s always a treat to see the hat directly against its matching dress.

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Designer: Rachel Trevor Morgan
Previously Worn: June 28, 2013; March 30, 2012; June 17, 2010

Princess Alexandra used the occasion today début a very sharp new hat.

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In pale pink straw, the hat follows a traditional boater shape with flat crown and brim. Its design flourish is a wide pink straw hatband, edged on both sides in a stripe of black straw and jauntily twisted at the side. This is an entirely new shape for Alexandra, who usually favours hats with much higher crowns. The scale and shape are fantastic on her and the hat’s styling today, with her elegant pink suit and patterned scarf, was spot on.

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Designer: Rachel Trevor Morgan
Previously Worn: this hat is new

Today’s top race was won by jockey William Buick on Masar, a horse from Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stable. For this victory, Princess Haya was head-to-hem in red, a colour she always looks spectacular in. Her hat, a vertical saucer, is trimmed with a giant silk bloom tucked beneath the brim of the raised side. We often see Haya in larger, wider brimmed hats and the smaller scale of this one, thanks in part to its vertical position, is especially flattering for her.

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Designer: Philip Treacy. It is OC-445 from SS 2018
Previously Worn:

Sheikha Al Jalila and was also on hand to celebrate the Dubai royal family’s win in a small cream button hat with straw twists.

Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan wore a grey felt top hat while Sheikh Mohammed repeated his top hat in black silk.

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Designer of Jalila’s hat: Philip Treacy
Previously Worn: this hat is new

Lady Carolyn Warren, daughter of Queen Elizabeth’s late friend and racing manager the 6th Earl of Carnarvon (known by his nickname “Porchy”) and wife of Her Majesty’s current racing manager John Warren, wore a wide brimmed cream straw hat with angular shaped crown and slightly upswept brim on one side. The hat is trimmed with a slim multi-layered hatband, cream silk roses and feathers. It’s an elegant design that pairs beautifully with her aqua tailored suit.

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Designer: Philip Treay
Previously Worn: This hat is new 

The races at Epsom always provide a taste of racing hats to come later in June and wow- what a way to whet our appetites! If this group of royal hats is anything to go by, we’re in for a fantastic month ahead.
Photos from Getty as indicated