Hat Coming of Age

The Royal Hats Blog Reader M.C. submitted the following hat question:

 I noticed the royal little girls do not wear hats. Is there a time in their lives when they “come of age” and start wearing hats?

Great question! If you look at the current generation of younger adult royals (age 20-45), you will notice a few trends. In the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway), I was not able to find hats worn by princesses before they turned 18. I believe the first hat publicly worn by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was for her father’s 50th birthday celebrations in April 1996, just before Victoria turned 19 years old.

 Princess Victoria, April 30, 1996  | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Martha Louise, May 17, 1994  | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Victoria (age 18), April 30, 1996 and Princess Martha Louise (age 22) on National Day, May 17, 1994

The Spanish royal ladies wear hats very seldom (we have only seen Princess Letizia wear three hats in her decade of royal life) and the Dutch Royals have no birth princesses in this generation to review. In the Belgian royal family, Princess Astrid’s eldest daughter Princess Maria Laura was just shy of her fifteenth birthday when we first saw her don a hat for her uncle Prince Laurent’s wedding.

Princess Maria Laura, April 12, 2003  | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria (age 14) , April 12, 2003  

In Great Britain, the royal little girls start seem to start wearing hats at an earlier age. The first hat I can find Zara Phillips wearing was to Ascot in 1989 when she was eight years old (although we have no way of knowing if the hat was worn for fashion, for Ascot dress code or for sun protection). The next hat I was able to find  Zara wearing was at Christmas 1994.

Zara Philips, June 20, 1989  | The Royal Hats Blog Zara Philips, December 25, 1994  | The Royal Hats Blog

 Zara Philips at age 8, June 20, 1989 and age 13, December 25, 1994

The only two birth princesses in the British Royal family in this generation are Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York.  These young girls were first seen in hats at the funeral of their aunt Princess Diana in September 1997. From this point, the two York princesses were seen in hats at most royal family events.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, September 6, 1997 | The Royal Hats Blog

9 year old Princess Beatrice and 7 year old Princess Eugenie at their aunt’s funeral, September 6, 1997 

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, August 31, 1998| The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Beatrice (age 10) and Princess Eugenie (age 8) at Balmoral with their grandparents, August 31, 1998

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, December 25, 1999| The Royal Hats Blog

Christmas at Sandringham (ages 11 and 9) December 25, 1999

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, June 4, 2002 | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Beatrice (age 13) and  Princess Eugenie (age 12) attending the Queens Golden Jubilee, June 4, 2002

Lady Louise Windsor appeared publicly in her first hat last on Christmas Day 2011 when she was eight years old. It appears, however, she has not made a full transition to hat wearing as we have not seen her in a hat since then (she attended most of the Diamond Jubilee festivities last year as well as Trooping the Colour the past two years and the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation last month)  I suspect Louise will start wearing hats to Christmas and Trooping the Colour on a regular basis within the few years.

Lady Louise Windsor, December 25, 2011 | The Royal Hats Blog

Lady Louise Windsor (age 8) at Sandringham with her parents, December 25, 2011

Princess Elisabeth of Belgium (who will become Crown Princess when her parents accede the throne on July 21) will be twelve years old this fall and we will have to stay tuned for her first hat as well. I also suspect that Princess Amalia of The Netherlands, if she inherits some of her mother’s flair for fashion, will start wearing hats  earlier than her contemporaries Princess Leonor of Spain, Princess Ingrid of Norway, and Princess Estelle of Sweden.

One thing is certain, M.C. – there are a few exciting years of hat watching ahead as the youngest generation of European princesses start wearing hats and find their individual millinery style! Thanks so much for submitting your question.

Photos from Raymond Reuter via Corbis; Raymond Reuter via Corbis;  Photonews via GettyTim Graham via Getty; Tim Graham via GettyTim Graham via Getty; Tim Graham via GettyTim Graham via Getty; and Tim Graham via Getty

Wedding Guest Hats, Ten Years Later


The wedding of Prince Laurent and Princess Claire of Belgium ten years ago today was a “mini” royal wedding – Laurent was the son of a king but not the heir to the throne. A number of royals from across Europe attended and there were some great hats on display. After looking at the bride’s veil and dress earlier today, let’s now turn our attention to the guests’ hats.

Queen Paola and Claire’s mother Nicole looked like they coordinated their millinery as both were in unadorned  light brown natural straw hats with upturned brims. Nicole’s hat featured a square shaped crown while Paola’s was a more traditionally rounded shape to highlight her dramatic diagonal brim. Their hats were both winners for me and both were designed by Fabienne Delvigne.

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The groom’s aunt Queen Fabiola of Belgium wore a hat in her favourite colour (lavender) with a wide upturned brim and silk flower trim. I loved how she placed it at a jaunty angle on her head and thought she looked just beautiful.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Claire’s sister Joanna looked very demure in a soft pink 1920’s inspired cloche with side fan bow also designed by Fabienne Delvigne. In considerable contrast, Princess Mathilde (the groom’s sister-in-law) looked rather dramatic in a huge pink metallic straw conical pyramid hat designed by Maison van den Borne. It’s a lot of hat for this petite princess and I think it overwhelms her a little. Since we’ve never seen her repeat this one, I can only guess that she was on the fence about it, too (although, I can’t imagine the average daytime royal engagement warrants THIS big a hat!).

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Embed from Getty Images

Princess Astrid (sister of Prince Laurent) gave birth to her fifth child, Princess Laetitia only ten days after the wedding and thus was not able to attend. Her eldest daughter, Maria Laura, carried on her mother’s zany hat style with this ruched pink organza Peach Basket style hat. As this was this young Princess’ first major public hat occasion I’m going to give her a pardon and only comment one word: lampshade. Enough said.

Princess Lea of Belgium wore a blue picture hat of ruched straw while Princess Esmeralda wore a large red straw picture hat with square crown and upturned brim edged in a wide stripe of straw.

Princess Lea and Princess Esmeralda, April 12, 2013 | Royal Hats

Princess Esmeralda, April 12, 2013 | Royal Hats

Most of the Luxmbourg Royals (who are cousins as their mother was King Albert’s sister) were in attendance. Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein (née Princess of Luxembourg) wore an elegant beige straw hat with mushroom shaped brim and back bow. Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg wore a large lilac straw hat with high upturned brim. I loved both these hats, although I could have done without the rest of Sibilla’s outfit.

Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein | The Royal Hats Blog

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Grand Duchess Maria Teresa must have also received a memo to wear a hat with an upturned brim because that’s exactly what she did- in bright orange.

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Embed from Getty Images

The Swedish Royal Family was represented by Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine. Victoria wore a chocolate brown straw picture hat with a square crown designed by Philip Treacy (and trimmed by Treacy’s signature pink looped bow). This remains one of my favourite hats that Victoria has ever worn. Madeleine wore an ice blue straw hat with a slightly mushroom shaped brim and side fan bow.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

The Dutch Royal family were represented by Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien. Laurentien wore a watermelon pink straw hat with – you guessed it – another upturned brim! It’s a great hat, although I think Laurentien ‘s fine features would be better complimented with a more delicate hat (and no crazy collar necklace). It was also a Fabienne Delvigne design.

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Also in attendance were Prince Kardam and Princess Miriam of Bulgaria (before their awful car accident in 2008)  and the Duke and Duchess of Bragança. Miriam wore a peach straw hat with a small, flat brim and drown wrapped in organza net. With flowers also on the side, there’s a lot going on with this hat. Isabel wore a simple cream straw hat with rolled brim and side flower detail. It’s not the most exciting of hats but I like it much better than the chocolate brown hat streak she’s on these days.

  Princess Miriam of Bulgaria | The Royal Hats Blog  Duchess of Bragança | The Royal Hats Blog

And finally, all weddings have a crazy aunt and this one had Princess Inaara Aga Khan (wife of the Aga Khan) in this larger than life beige and purple shiny transparent straw confection. While I am all about memorable hats, this one does seem a bit much.

Princess Inaara Aga Khan | The Royal Hats Blog

Prince Laurent and Princess Claire celebrate this, their tenth anniversary with their children Princess Louise and twins Prince Nicolas and Prince Aymeric, who joined them in 2004 and 2005. The family does not play any official royal role but we see them joining the rest of the Belgian Royals for major events like the Remembrance Te Deums every February and the National Holiday in July.

Looking back at their wedding from a decade later, I have to name this “The Wedding of the Upturned Brim!” That being said, many of the hats were unadorned and could be easily worn today. I think my favourite was Princess Victoria of Sweden in that elegant brown and pink picture hat. Which one did you like best? And which one would you still wear today?

Photos from The Royal Forums; Svenskdam; and The Royal Forums