Closer Look: Somerville Scottish Hat

When Queen Elizabeth opened the Scottish Parliament on July 1, 1999, it was an historic moment. As she does at such times, the Queen chose an ensemble of significance, this one in very fitting Scottish heather purple.

On display now at Holyrood House for this year’s exhibition on 90 years of the Queen’s fashion, the Royal Collection Trust shared these snap which give us a better view of the hat than we have seen previously.

Until seeing the closeup of the hat above, I did not realize how heavily patterned the purple wool silk is- it certainly gives a strong sense of texture to this design. This view also confirms the feathers as dark mottled green, a much more interesting design choice (and one that links much better to the Queen`s green dress) than the black ones I thought they were. In the end, I`m left admiring the shape of this design but wishing that part of it was made of straw to give a break in the busy texture of the ensemble. While Queen Elizabeth wore the tartan shawl pictured above as a traditional plaid (pinned to her brooch and trailing down her back), the way it is draped in the exhibition photo shows how beautifully it ties the ensemble together. It`s a shame it wasn`t as visible when it was worn.
What do you think of this hat design, now that we’ve had a closer look?
Photos from Getty and the Royal Collection Trust as indicated
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27 thoughts on “Closer Look: Somerville Scottish Hat

  1. I love this whole ensemble, and I think it succeeds very well for its symbolic role. The colour combination is gorgeous, especially when the plaid is more visible. The hat is a wonderful evocation of a Scotch bonnet, without in any way being a literal interpretation, and it complements the dress and coat beautifully. As others have said, it’s nice to see the Queen in other accessories than black, and I think it’s a good thing she was still wearing other colours on occasion back then, as black would definitely do the outfit a disservice! I think the length of the dress is longer than the Queen was usually wearing even then, and I suspect it is a nod towards the style of court dress that would undoubtedly have been worn for such an occasion at the beginning of the Queen’s reign, to emphasise the historic nature of the event.

    • I agree with what Bristol says: August 14, 2016 at 1:58 am. The Queen really dressed head to toe in a way that encompassed the historical aspect of the entire event.

  2. The outfit is beautifully displayed. The dress always seemed too long when on the Queen, but in the display, one concentrates merely on the beautiful fabrics. Putting the tartan around the coat does show the careful attention to detail that probably frequently is not appreciated when the Queen wears her outfits in public and is seen chiefly from a distance. Obviously this was an especially carefully crafted outfit, however, since someone managed to convince the Queen not to wear her usual black accessories (although she did wear more brown and taupe from time to time decades ago).
    Thank you for this detailed close-up!

  3. I’m commenting for a third time, HQ. It’s amazing what you learn when you think you are just looking at a hat! In addition to the Mirman hat report at the Investiture of the Prince of Wales where your readers added all sorts of historical information about the outfit and the ceremony, this report on the Somerville Scottish hat at the opening of the Scottish Parliament is full of illuminating details. Love it! Thanks to all.

  4. I have worn purple and green myself in the past, so this color combo is not as surprising to me, but I still love it; the tartan is especially complementary, moreso than I would expect tartan to be with an ensemble like this. What I don’t like is the crown shape of this hat; it looks too much like a traffic cone to me, nor am I a fan of the very obvious seam running around the top of the brown, but otherwise I think it is a beautiful hat and I like how Edwardian the combination of the bow and feathers is.

    Sidenote: The pink swirl hat is on display right next to this one (evidenced in the last photo). How I would love to see that one in person!

  5. Perhaps a better look, with the tartan! Magnificent, indeed. Is this one of the many “one-and-done” ensembles from HM’s closet? I would never have guessed how nice the green and purple go together, but they do!

  6. Thanks to Aberdeen for the explanation about the plaid and Edie Engel for the link to the photo. What a regal ensemble! I love the motion of the feathers. But, all that wool! Is Scotland really that cold in July?

  7. I love this hat – I don’t recall seeing this outfit before and like the whole thing very much. Intrigued by the longer length of the dress and coat too, a bit longer than she wears today. Found this photo showing the outfit ‘in motion’: https://www.flickr.com/photos/scotparl/15426259391/in/set-72157648268879636

    As an historic footnote to the first 2 photos above: In May 2000 Donald Dewar, the First Minister of Scotland (chap in the glasses) had major heart surgery, returning to work in August, but in October 2000 died from a brain injury after falling outside his home. He was one of those rare politicians who was well liked, even by his political opponents. There’s a statue of him in Glasgow.

  8. The textures and colours you see here shown just how stunning this outfit is. The green and purple, like thistles and heather are beautiful, and the hat shape is different for her, and very flattering. The plaid shawl is worn, it’s attached to the brooch and worn over the shoulder on traditional fashion – it just doesn’t show up in all of these pictures.

  9. I really like this ensemble. It’s different. It suits the occasion beautifully. It looks lovely on Her Majesty. One thing that really struck me, however, is her shoes and bag which look to be taupe. It seems odd to see her in something other than black or cream. Having said that, I like the change.

    • Yes, I loved the beautiful, non-black! shoes. I wish Her Majesty could find beautiful, comfortable shoes in other than cream and black. Shoes that are both beautiful and well-fitting are more and more of a problem, sadly, as one ages, especially for one so often on her feet.

  10. Very interesting about the plaid. Don’t like the hat much at all. I have noticed that the Queen is not wearing black patent shoes – how nice to look back and see different shoes and handbag.

  11. I really like “the look” of the entire ensemble, but the close-up of the hat and its shiny pattern surprises me, although the shape and feathers really suit her. It’s also unusual to see a smaller handbag than the one she usually carries.

  12. The shawl was worn the whole day but it is pinned by a plaid brooch in her jacket and let to fall down the back. It is not even a shawl, it is a plaid and this is the traditional way it should be worn in Scotland. Great pictures up close. If you look closely you will see the plaid in all of them 🙂

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