A look at Queen Elizabeth's hats from 1928 to 2022

A look at Queen Elizabeth’s hats from 1928 to 2022

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Queen Elizabeth II was rarely seen with her hair uncovered, as during official occasions, she wore a tiara perfectly placed on her head.

At Balmoral stables, where she tended ponies, she appeared in Wellington rain boots and a padded jacket, complementing her look with a plaid head scarf always tied under her chin.

But most of the time, she wore a hat.

“It’s almost unattainable,” Beatrice Behlen, Senior Curator of Fashion and Decorative Arts at the Museum of London, said in 2019. “There’s always a brooch, there’s usually pearl jewels, she’s usually white gloves, and then there’s the matching hat.”

Hats have been a part of the Queen’s life since childhood, as she appears in pictures, wearing bonnets and French berets.

She continued to wear it through her adolescence and youth, often coordinating her looks with her younger sister, Princess Margaret, and the Queen Mother.

From an early age, her fashion style was considered daring.

By commissioning fashion-defying hat designers such as France’s Simone Merman, Britain’s Freddy Fox, and most recently Britain’s Rachel Trevor Morgan, the Queen has embraced unconventional hat shapes, embellished with flowers and feathers, and in a full range of colours.

As a princess and during the early days of her reign, Elizabeth was a trendsetter.

In February 1944, when she wore a hat “inspired by a military service officer’s hat” during the wedding of then-Lieutenant Christopher Wake Walker and Lady Anne Spencer, Princess Diana’s aunt, The Associated Press reported that copies of the hat sold out quickly across London; in 1946 Ostrich prices in South Africa are said to have skyrocketed, after she and her mother wore ostrich hats during a festive march in London.


And when the Queen wasn’t setting trends, she embraced it, following the vogue of the 1950s beanie and joining American actress Barbra Streisand and Nicaraguan actress and activist Bianca Jagger in embracing the turban fashion in the 1970s.


Dorothy Schaeffer, then head of department store chain Lord and Taylor, told the Los Angeles Times in 1957, before the Queen’s first official visit to America: “The Queen doesn’t have to be fashion; it is a fashion in itself – and it has inspired her generation. To return to style, appreciate quality and dress appropriately.”

By the 1960s, hats were out of fashion, due to changing situations and trends, but the Queen didn’t care.

“When I was growing up, it was completely normal to wear hats,” Behlen explained. “Back then everyone, including women, wore hats.”

“It becomes a brand when you keep wearing them (the hats) even though everyone else has stopped,” she added.

As always with women in politics, Elizabeth’s clothing has long been the subject of debate and scrutiny.

She often used this fact to her advantage, using her adornment as a means of sending subtle messages.

In 1946, she wore an oversized beret to meet a group of Girl Guides, and during a visit to Slovakia in 2008 she wore a netted hat resembling a Russian Ushanka, artist and lecturer Oliver Watts told The Conversation.

He added: “Although the hat was appropriate for this occasion, it was somewhat more like a snuff, to create a calm atmosphere with wisdom and generosity than it.”


We must assume that there was a similar motive behind her decision to wear a blue-and-yellow hat, matching the colors of the EU flag, to the opening of the British Parliament in 2017, coinciding with the start of Brexit negotiations.

At the time, the BBC and countless other social media speculators asked, “Does the Queen wear an EU hat?”, but of course she wouldn’t say it.


Perhaps the most enduring influence of her wearing the hats is the indelible mark she made on Britain.

During her 70-year reign, she helped establish the hat as a symbol of the development of high society, an attractive anachronism and a mark of British authenticity.

This is especially fascinating considering that throughout Europe, queens such as Leticia of Spain and Maxima of the Netherlands wear hats during more formal occasions.


“The care of the royal family keeps the hats alive,” Irish hat designer Philip Tracy said during a BBC radio program in 2018. Her Majesty has kept the hats alive in the imagination of people all over the world.”

He added: “If the royal family had chosen not to wear hats – say during the 1960s or 1970s when some people gave up on hats – I wouldn’t be sitting here for this meeting, as hats are part of English and British culture.”


However, there are occasions in the British calendar where the wearing of hats remains a necessity – such as the Royal Ascot, a horse-racing event in which the Queen was once mainly present.

British bookmakers are notorious for accepting bets on what color the Queen will choose to wear during the annual event, and in recent years the Queen has rocked pink and blue in a big way, according to bookmaker William Hill.

Even after being cut off from public life, due to her visibly diminished mobility, the Queen took every opportunity to be visible, often coordinating her brightly colored dress coats with hats so that she was hard to go unnoticed by the public.

During the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022, her bright green look delivered a moment of joy to the thousands of people gathered around Buckingham Palace. A black pin on her hat as a reminder of her late husband Prince Philip, who died a year ago, added a cute touch to her look.


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