Reader Guest Post: Musings On Repeat Royal Hats

A few weeks ago, a comment conversation unfolded about which hats readers would like Queen Elizabeth to repeat more often. I extended an open invitation to anyone to turn their wishes into a guest post. Several accepted this challenge and we will enjoy these posts in coming weeks. First up is longtime commenter JamesB who describes himself as “a royal obsessive since the age of about 7 (much to the bemusement of my parents!).”  Despite living in London, he seldom sees the Royal family although he has had the pleasure to meet Princess Anne and Princess Michael of Kent. I was humbled to learn that JamesB has followed Royal Hats since the very beginning and am very pleased to welcome him here today!

So clearly I have too much time on my hands, but in those moments where my mind is wondering (often during important work meetings, thank heavens people can’t read minds), I find myself pondering the rules of rotation for the Queen’s outfits. I say rules, but I think patterns is more like it, as clearly she (and/or Ms Kelly) are reading this blog, and like to keep us on our toes by throwing in a curveball. What I have observed (utterly unscientifically) is this…

1. Some events nearly always merit a new outfit and hat. Christmas is a dead cert, and Ascot and a tour usually see a good bunch of new rigouts.

2. But some are a time for old favourites. Trooping the Colour and Holyrood Week normally fit this brief, but damnit if she hasn’t been playing with us recently.

3. Thicker (and therefore more expensive) winter outfits get more wear than lighter summer ones. Well that and the fact she has more need for summer clothes I guess…

4. Outfits tend to be repeated once per season. Ooh, she’s been testing me on this one lately: the Trooping outfit plus the blue from the last day of Holyrood week have had some quick repeats, I guess she was just having ‘one of those days’..

5. And lastly, and most importantly; she’s thrifty, and likes to get her wear from an outfit.

Hold the phone… this last one falls apart pretty easily. The Queen’s legendary parsimony does not mean she wears and wears her clothes. All of these ‘rules’ (which I have obviously invented!) prove that rules are meant to be broken. Which leads me to the point of this post: which are the one-wear hats and outfits I’d love to see again?! Here goes…

I. The garden party candidates

If these festive little numbers don’t scream garden party I don’t know what does. The first two practically have a garden party on her head. I was sure we would see the green one for such an event this year, alas not, and I keep waiting…

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Embed from Getty Images
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II. The absent standards

These hats should so be in the running for being continual repeats; I’m mystified why they’ve only seen the light of day once, lets hope they’re dusted off again soon. I guess at least the red and white was a Canadian tribute, but it could have easily slotted into the rotation. All sadly overlooked.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

 JamesB- your memory for hats is amazing- I had forgotten about some of the floral trimmed hats and join your call for them to be repeated. Your theory about outfit rotation is also spot on! Everyone- stay tuned for Part 2 of JamesB’s post tomorrow and enjoy the photo he shared below of his meeting Princess Michael (he is in the centre, beside her turbaned lady-in-waiting). 
Photos from Getty as indicated and from the private collection of JamesB

40 thoughts on “Reader Guest Post: Musings On Repeat Royal Hats

  1. Please Your Majesty. Repeat that bright pink outfit you wore to Ascot in 2015. Absolutely magnificent…so so fresh and elegant and refined looking, gorgeous colour!! Oh and that brooch of course. Pretty please.

  2. JamesB, I really like all of your choices! However, I’ve noticed that the white ones, especially the Germany number, don’t jump out as well, next to HM’s beautiful white hair.
    Of the lot, one of my favorites is the April 20, 2016 pre-birthday hat. Jevver wonder what the dress underneath looks like?
    Here it is, from July 14, 2016. Quite nice.
    Embed from Getty Images

    • Good catch, Jimbo, thanks for that!

      Is it my imagination, or did HM wear dresses without coats much more frequently decades ago? Might be just changes in fashion, but I’m wondering if it’s also because people tend to get cold more often as they get older. Both my mother and grandmother were always putting on sweaters, jackets and coats when they reached that age, even in the height of summer.

      As an aside to HatQueen, in a previous post, I asked if she always wore the same pearls and earrings for daytime engagements, and you replied that she had for years and years, so just out of curiosity, I started looking back at some old photos — the earliest appearance I was able to find of what appear to be the same pearls and earrings was in 1972!

  3. What an enjoyable guest post by JamesB. Love his “rules” for millinery rotation and how easily they are broken! Looking forward to Part 2.

  4. I completely forgot about Belgian National Day so we’ll pick up part 2 of JamesB’s marvellous musings on Monday!

    And… if any of you would like to write a post about hats you’d like to see appear on any royal head, just let me know! I’d love this to be a summer of guest reader posts.

  5. I’ve been out of computer range for a few days – or I would have said earlier how much I love your post JamesB, and your hat choices. Looking forward to Part 2!
    Thanks for sharing that pic of you and Princess Michael – you look very dapper indeed. Love the colours your chose to wear, and that boutonniere. What is the flower? Have you got a closeup pic of it you could share?

    • Thanks! I think I was wearing a red rose, I worked at a charity where PMOK was our royal supporter and all of us staff wore them to make us more visible. You can see I’m hanging on ever word here! She was talking about her love of cats and exercise from what I can remember…

  6. Awwww thanks everyone for your kind words. I had such fun writing this post, and it’s great that you’ve enjoyed it too! Part 2 coming up later… with a one wear hat of my own I’m sharing!!

  7. Great post JamesB! I’m glad you included the white hat with red floral trim from Canada in your list; it’s definitely amongst my favorites that I would love to see return again. It’s always fun to see what other readers here would like to see make a comeback.

  8. JamesB, what a great post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I have to admit that when viewing a new post here, I often scan the comments to read yours first since you always have something insightful and witty to add.

    The pale green ensemble in the first photo is so beautiful; I’d love to see it again. The pink hat with the sweeping feathers is possibly my favorite Angela Kelly hat and is much too lovely to have only been seen once.

    Regarding Trooping the Colour, until a few years ago a repeated hat was always worn. If I’m not mistaken, the hat and coat were often never seen again. I wonder if that is because Horse Guards Parade can get very dusty.

    How wonderful that you were able to chat with both Princess Michael and Lady Fellowes. Is that Rudy Giuliani as well? I had to chuckle at the “too much time on my hands” comment. During work meetings, conference calls, and even long sermons 🙊 my mind is sometimes filled with thoughts of royal jewels and hats!

    • Regarding the idea that the coat worn at Trooping the Color is never seen again because Horse Guards Parade can get very dusty, I would hate to think that the Royal Family cannot avail themselves of the services of a good dry cleaner!

    • It does like Giuliani doesn’t it – it wasn’t though, I can’t remember the chaps name but he was much less notable!

  9. Thanks so much, JamesB — what a fun post! Your theory about the wool ensembles makes a lot of sense. The hats are probably more durable than the straw. In general, doesn’t she have more hat-wearing events in the spring/summer than the winter? And I agree that the red and white is not so Canada-specific that it couldn’t be worked into the rotation. That lampshade is a good scale for her.

    You fit right in with the royals, don’t you? You look very elegant!

  10. Thank you JamesB! I especially like the second pink floral hat and the last two white hats. My favorite hat shapes of the Queen are the downward sloping brim and the half turned up brim.

  11. Thank you, JamesB, for a most enjoyable post. And thank you in particular for the photos of those lovely “garden party” hats–just beautiful. It would be a pleasure to see them again!

  12. Mr.JamesB chose lovely hats and Her Majesty looks beautiful in them. I don’t understand the hats with the severely sloped crowns. Is their purpose to let the rain run off? That style could be eliminated since umbrellas are always on hand. I think the latter is a better choice than the slope.

  13. Excellent post James! I can’t wait for the second part. Good observations…and funny! Just what I like in a blog post.

  14. Great post JamesB and I can’t wait for part 2! I love the green and pink flowered hats and am surprised the haven’t been worn again. The red and white hat the Queen wore in Canada looks a bit lamp shady to me but I loved reading your and Hat Queen’s comments about it. You two should have a radio or TV show solving royal hat mysteries.

  15. Great job James. I would have no idea where to begin, but I loved your choices, some of which I don’t even remember seeing.

  16. When I first saw that white hat with black trim for the Queen’s arrival in Paris in 2014, I must admit I wondered if it was a renovated version of the 2010 hat from Canada. The crown is a very similar shape with quite square angles(that oddly look more square or more rounded in different photos) and if you imagine the hat from Canada getting a brim trim… well, there you go. The white and black Paris hat appeared in Angela Kelly’s book with different trim, but the picture could have been shot mid renovation.

    Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
    Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

    • Ooh… I’m wondering now. The shape is definitely the same (wth a brim trim), the Paris one has a bubbled texture to it (same as the jacket though), and I can’t see any texture on the Canada one. It absolutely could be though.

      • You’re right- the black and white hat’s crown has been covered in the same bubble textured white fabric as the matching jacket (see it at this high res photo) although I think the brim is still just straw. This makes me now strongly think that the two are different. It seems like a LOT of work to take apart the Canada hat and cover the crown with fabric instead of starting from scratch on a new hat. JamesB…. I think there’s hope for the Canada hat after all.

      • It’s that post that got me thinking about this. The photos from Angela Kelly’s studio show a white hat with what looks like the very same brim as the Canada hat. She removed the brim on the navy hat so, why not remove the brim on the white hat, cover the crown in fabric and give the brim a shave before reattaching it?!

    • Thank you, JamesB, for such a great post, and also for sharing the photo of yourself with Princess Michael of Kent. I too look forward to the next part of your series.

      Regarding the possible remaking of hats, I’ve been giving the subject some thought. I agree with HatQueen that it does not make sense that the work (and cost) involved in removing the decorations, altering the size and shape of the brim, covering the crown with fabric, and then adding a different hatband would be worth it — better to just make a new hat from scratch! In the case of the renovated hat in the other post, the changes looked very dramatic because of the contrast of dark blue and white, but really only involved changing the direction of the brim and adding the white hatband — not nearly as much work. The discussion does make me wonder, however, if our thrifty Queen has over the years created “new” hats more often than we think by simply having the decorations changed on an otherwise “perfectly good” brim and crown whose embellishments she had grown tired of. (This may have already been written about in the past — I’ve only been following the blog for a few months!)

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