Love her or not love her, you have to admit Her Majesty looks great in a hat. I adore the stunningly beautiful Royal hats that turn heads in church, garden parties, weddings, christenings and everything in between. Top-drawer, charmingly, English Rose beauties and I believed I was destined to join their ranks.
Then came the earth shattering truth.
Just a few years ago (maybe 60 years) I was convinced I had cracked the Royal ‘Code of Acceptance’. The welcome into the inner sanctum, the gold ticket entrance into the glitterati, secret-hand-shake, horsey winner’s circle that constituted the Royal Family. You see, at the ripe old age of 10 (1962) I was thoroughly convinced Prince
Charles and I were predestined and he would completely agree with my truthful, but fair, assessment of his family, tradition and history.
One thing we would always agree on was the hats; their exquisite shape, the wonderous materials, the glorious designs. One must look good in a hat.
However, we’d have to talk about the ‘future tense’ team of royals and some of their poor choices of chapeaux élégant; C’est tragique, tu ne trouves pas? Unanimous then — naturellement. (I just knew Charles was going to love it when I dropped French participles. Well, I could, sort of, at 10 years old, now with the help of Monsieur Google.) He would, naturally, agree with my assessment of his family.
Please don’t misinterpret my bonnet assessments as ‘disrespectful’, merely an ever-so-slight objection to deference based solely on the ‘sperm that won’; royal lotto if you will. Except for the Queen, I have endless respect for that woman.
However, if you presume I have a touch of the green-eyed monster, you would be correct, but not for the reason you may think (although a few extra million to boost the pension would always be most welcome.)
A Catholic upbringing (Charles would forgive me), by definition, entails much genuflecting, praying, kneeling, church attendance and therefore much hat wearing. On Sundays I noticed our suburban lovelies would appear all decked out in beautiful finery, invariably topped with a new coiffure (new hair rollers I guess) complemented with some of the most exquisite hats I had ever seen. I was so envious, but something niggled in my mind for ages until the day of the dawning, the realisation —
“Mum, why do we only wear mantillas?”
Mantillas are lace net coverings for me-lady’s head, specific to, and reserved for, church goings. They’re lovely and I had one in every colour, but hats? There was not one to be seen in any bedroom, attic or cellar. Puzzlement.
“Mum, why don’t we have any hats?”
“Hats don’t suit us. We look ridiculous in hats. We have chubby faces and over-blown cheeks.”
Excuse me? What bright spark told her that? How can anyone not look good in hats? Everyone looks good in hats, even men. And … What’s this about chubby faces? Oh no, this would never do; Charles needs his wife to look stunning in hats.
With the over confidence of a know-it-all 10-year-old (and convinced my whole future depended on it), I was determined to show Mum the error of her ways, so off we went to Brisbane, Queensland’s, top posh shop, David Jones. The very kind, attentive milliner (no, not a shop assistant, geez) cast an unapproving, judgmental eye over my obviously grossly deformed huge head, touched my chubby face and, I swear, made a ‘tut-tut’ noise as she traced the bloody great huge mounds of quivering
flesh that clung to my deeply buried, never to be excavated, check bones.
Chiselled cheeks and chin? Fat chance.
How had I not noticed these physical short-comings before? No matter, a hat hides all defects a la Sunday Mass Ladies and my soon-to-be in-laws, the Royal Family. One simply has to choose the correct crown size … Squish … The exact right brim extension … Flick … Jaunty side position or straight … Ribbon, lace, linen, colour.
As previously noted, I had mantillas in every conceivable colour, shape and length. After much hat trying-on, genuine discussion and consideration, the milliner, Mum and I decided on the perfect outcome … Prince Charles would just have to love me in a beret and accept ‘jaunty’ as the latest fashion trend. Worked for me.
Author’s Note: No offence is intended in the writing of this blog. It is merely a light-hearted ‘here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?’ summary of how well Queen Elizabeth II looks in hats and how I envy that.