Picking the right outfit for a high-profile wedding is no easy task and no one knows that better than Princess Beatrice, who became the subject of much ridicule after she went out on a limb and wore a decidedly modern hat to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011.
The ‘Pretzel hat’, as it’s known, became the butt of countless jokes and earned the princess a spot on the worst dressed list, no doubt putting a dampener on what was the biggest royal event of the century.
Now, the legendary designer behind the headpiece has spoken out about the so-called fashion fail and joked he worried he’d end up with his “head on a spike” over the furore.
Philip Treacy, 51, who’s designed dozens of hats for the royal family over the years, told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that he thought he “was making a little hat with a bow on it”, not an item that would become a talking piece around the world for years to come.
“There was a moment where I thought I would find myself with my head on a spike outside the Tower of London,” he joked.
“But it was a very modern hat and modernity is always unusual things.”
Treacy also designed Princess Eugenie’s wild blue, feathered hat for William and Catherine’s wedding, as well as the Duchess of Cornwall’s striking blush pink design and Zara Tindall’s sweeping black number, but none gardened the same vitriol as Beatrice’s, which was regularly compared to a toilet seat.
Despite the negative press, Treacy has continued to design hats for the royals and the world’s elite with the recent Ascot Race proving a boon for business once again.
The Irish-born designer also credited the Queen for keeping the art of millinery alive and said without her the industry would have died years ago.
“Her Majesty the Queen has kept hats alive in the imaginations of people all over the world,” he told BBC radio host Kirsty Young.
“If the Royal Family chose not to wear hats, I wouldn’t really be sitting here having this conversation with you. Hats are part of the culture of Englishness and of Britishness.”
And despite the hat’s bad name, Beatrice managed to make some good out of the situation. She sold it for £81,000 (AU$144,000) a month after the wedding and gave the money to charity.