32 royal hats that stole the scene from funky fascinators to the most daring headgear

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but these scene-stealing hats and fascinators really made royal history

royal hats - Princess Beatrice wore one of the most memorable royal hats, but who else has had an iconic millinery moment?
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From the House of Windsor to stylish European royals, it’s hard to beat a royal when it comes to headwear. 

Whether it’s knowing how to subtly hide thoughtful details in their choice of accessory to just stealing the show in a standout fashion moment, from weddings to funerals, state visits to public appearances, we’ve picked the most memorable millinery moments from the world of royalty… but not all of them are memorable for the right reasons.

After all, knowing how to wear a hat properly can be tricky at the best of times – and even the royals don’t always get it right. From the beautiful to the bizarre, hold on to your hats as we delve right in…

The Royal Wardrobe by Rosie Harte | £17 at Amazon

The Royal Wardrobe by Rosie Harte | £17 at Amazon 

Royal fashion lovers will be fascinated by the journey through history taken in this book, reflecting upon how royal style has evolved from the Tudor and Victorian era to the modern day. It considers the the impact of royal apparel and how much meaning each item can have.

32 royal hats that stole the scene

1. Princess Beatrice's Philip Treacy hat, 2011

Princess Beatrice's hat for William and Kate's wedding in 2011

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What other hat could we start the list with than the now-infamous structural Philip Treacy worn by Princess Beatrice to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? The hat was compared to everything from a sea creature to a toilet seat, but Beatrice had the last laugh, auctioning off the hat and fetching over £80,000 for charity. 

2. Queen Elizabeth II's 'EU' hat, 2017

The late Queen Elizabeth wore a hat many thought was a subtle message of support for the European Union after Brexit was voted in

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Queen Elizabeth II reigned for a historic 70 years before her death in September 2022, and she wore thousands of hats in that time. But one which made headlines for surprising reasons was this blue and yellow hat worn to address Parliament in 2017, after Brexit had been voted for by the public. The colour palette matching the EU flag struck many as perhaps more than a coincidence.

3. Princess Anne's Coronation feather, 2023

Princess Anne at King Charles' Coronation

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The Coronation of King Charles in May 2023 was one for the history books - but the Princess Royal almost accidentally stole the show after her pluming red feather ended up blocking Prince Harry's view throughout the ceremony. 

4. Kate Middleton's Royal Ascot hat, 2022

Kate Middleton's Royal Ascot 2022 hat

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Kate Middleton stunned on the fourth day of Royal Ascot 2022 in a look that was evocative of Julia Roberts circa Pretty Woman. In a stunning polka dot dress, the now-Princess of Wales wore a Sally-Ann Provan hat which stole the show. 

5. Queen Letizia's Coronation hat, 2023

Queen Letizia attending the coronation of King Charles

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Proving how perfectly on-trend she is, Queen Letizia of Spain attended the Coronation of King Charles nailing the Barbiecore trend which was dominating fashion circles at the time. She arrived at Westminster Abbey in a pink suit with peplum and embroidery details by Carolina Herrera’s creative director, Wes Gordon, coordinating it with a matching Scala Insignia clutch and straw fascinator with a pink veil.

6. Zara Tindall's leopard print hat, 2007

Zara Tindall's leopard print hat at Ascot, 2007

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Zara Tindall attended Ladies Day at the 2007 Royal Ascot and stole the show thanks to her fashion-forward oversized leopard print hat, complete with elaborate bow detailing. 

7. Queen Elizabeth's 'smarties' hat, 1993

Queen Elizabeth's colourful polka dot hat

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For all her stoicism and solid service, the late Queen Elizabeth II was never predictable when it came to fashion. For a 1993 visit to Budapest, Hungary, Her Majesty wore a Marie O'regan colourful polka dot hat which, quite frankly, looked like it was inspired by Smarties. Eye-catching and unforgettable! 

8. Princess Margaret's Peacock hat, 1973

Princess Margaret wearing peacock feather hat

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With a decadent morning routine and a penchant for offending even Hollywood's elite, Princess Margaret could never be considered shy. So it was very apt that she wore an attention-grabbing peacock feather hat in 1973. 

9. Princess Margaret's red feather hat, 1991

Princess Margaret's red feather hat, 1991

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Sticking with the rebellious royal, Princess Margaret once again showcased her flair for the dramatic when she donned an unmissable red feather hat in 1991. She wore the same hat on other occasions, usually pairing the flamboyant headpiece with her Ruby and Diamond brooch.

10. Princess Diana's turban hat, 1989

Princess Diana in a blue turban hat

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The late Diana, Princess of Wales was renowned for taking bigger fashion risks than people had come to expect from the Royal Family. During a 1989 visit to Dubai, she looked chic and timeless in a Philip Somerville turban hat. 

11. Queen Elizabeth's yellow polka dot turban, 1975

Queen Elizabeth in a yellow and white polka dot turban

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Proving you could never really predict what she might wear, Queen Elizabeth II stunned in a bright, bold yellow and white polka dot ensemble during a state visit to Mexico in 1975. The turban proved Her Majesty was not afraid of trying a different look - and managed to give a fresh spin on a classic. 

12. Crown Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, 2004

Crown Princess Marie at the wedding of Queen Letizia and King Felipe VI

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Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece, attended the wedding of Queen Letizia and King Felipe in 2004 wearing a hat that certainly split opinion. The wide-brimmed hat was complete with beige feathers, which many compared to hay or straw. 

13. Cowgirl Kate Middleton, 2011

Kate Middleton wearing a cowboy hat

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In 2011 - the same year she looked every inch the fairytale princess at her wedding to Prince William - Kate shocked everyone with a look that screamed the exact opposite. Sporting a cowboy hat, Kate looked a natural as she attended the Calgary Stampede. 

14. Meghan Markle's Trooping the Colour debut, 2018

Meghan Markle at Trooping the Colour, 2018

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The Duchess of Sussex proved the power of simplicity for her first appearance at Trooping the Colour in 2018.  She paired an off-the-shoulder dress by Carolina Herrera with a matching Philip Treacy hat while leaving her hair down in elegant waves for an effortless but iconic look. 

15. Duchess Sophie's snakeskin hat, 2005

Duchess Sophie at King Charles and Camilla's wedding, 2005

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At the wedding of the then Prince Charles and Camilla in 2005, Duchess Sophie wore an intriguing shapely snakeskin hat complete with a plume of feathers. It cemented Sophie as one to watch when it came to fashion, showcasing that she had her own style and wasn't afraid to mix things up. 

16. Queen Camilla's feathered headpiece, 2005

Queen Camilla at the wedding of her son in 2005

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At the wedding of her son, Tom Parker Bowles, the now Queen Camilla debuted a stunning white, feathered headpiece. The feathers are designed to look like they are in motion, arching over in a wave formation. 

17. Meghan Markle's funeral hat, 2022

Meghan Markle at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

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The Duchess of Sussex returned to the UK for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth in 2022, after moving to California and quitting life as a working royal alongside husband, Prince Harry. Meghan looked timeless in her Dior wide-brimmed and slanted hat, a replica of one she had previously worn in white. 

18. Kate Middleton's yellow flower hat, 2022

Kate Middleton wearing a yellow flower hat in 2022

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For a service of thanksgiving to the 70 years of service the late Queen Elizabeth gave in 2022, Princess Catherine followed one of the late Queen's style rules and wore a colourful, standout ensemble. Her monochrome outfit consisted of a pale-yellow dress by Emilia Wickstead, a matching hat, a clutch, nude pumps, and pearl drop earrings.

19. Queen Máxima at Queen Letizia's wedding, 2004

Queen Maxima's elaborate hat at the wedding of Queen Letizia and King Felipe

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Talk about one wedding guest you wouldn't want to get stuck behind. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands wore this huge, beguiling hat to the wedding of Queen Letizia and King Felipe VI of Spain. 

20. Princess Margaret's daisies hat, 1969

Princess Margaret's daisy hat at Royal Ascot

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Flowers on hats is a common theme for members of the Royal Family, but Princess Margaret took it that little step further. Rather than featuring flowers, the entire hat appears to be made up of connecting daisies, for a stunning and joyous hat that we won't forget in a hurry. 

21. Zara Tindall's huge wedding hat, 2011

Zara Tindall at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

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The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was going to be seen by millions around the world, so it's no surprise that royals including Zara Tindall stepped out of their fashion comfort zone to make a splash. 

22. Princess Diana's pillbox hat, 1995

Princess Diana in a pink pillbox hat

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Princess Diana's ode to Jackie Kennedy saw her put her own signature on the look made famous by the First Lady. With this timeless pink pillbox hat by Philip Sommerville and a matching Versace suit, Diana made her mark on fashion history. 

23. Princess Beatrice's butterfly fascinator, 2008

Princess Beatrice's butterfly fascinator at the wedding of Peter Phillips

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Her hat at Prince William's wedding went viral, but Princess Beatrice has showcased her unique take on fashion before - at the wedding of another cousin, Peter Phillips. She wore this interesting butterfly fascinator for the nuptials in 2008. 

24. Queen Elizabeth's traditional Scottish hat, 1980

The late Queen wearing a traditional tam o'shanter hat

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Queen Elizabeth was known to love Scotland, with Balmoral being where she chose to spend her final days. Perhaps showing her appreciation for the neighbours up north, Her Majesty sported a traditional tam o'shanter - a a flat bonnet, originally made of wool hand-knitted in one piece, stretched on a wooden disc to give the distinctive flat shape.

25. Meghan Markle's emerald hat, 2020

Meghan Markle's emerald hat, 2020

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The Duchess of Sussex wore this dazzling emerald design by Glasgow-based William Chambers as she attended the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in 2020. It was one of the first times Meghan truly embraced colour, as she had typically opted for neutral shades.

Kate Middleton's furry hat, 2018

Kate Middleton in a furry hat

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Sometimes what makes a hat so memorable is how unexpected it is. In 2018, while on a trip to Sweden alongside Prince William, the now Princess of Wales wore a surprising fur hat which was a change from her usual country-girl style. Think more Doctor Zhivago and less Berkshire. 

27. Queen Camilla's huge feathered hat, 2005

Queen Camilla sporting a huge navy feathered hat in 2005

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The then-Duchess of Cornwall certainly knew how to stand out in what might be the biggest hat to make the list. Camilla wore the hat to unveil the Battle Of Britain Memorial on the Embankment in London.

28. Princess Catherine's funeral hat and veil, 2022

Kate Middleton at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

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The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was a moment in history, and while the world tuned in to witness the burial of the longest-reigning monarch, others also were desperate to catch a sight of the Princess of Wales. Unsurprisingly, Catherine's look was utterly timeless and elegant, completed dramatically with her Philip Treacy wide-brimmed hat and veil. 

29. Princess Anne's red-and-white hat, 1971

Princess Anne in a distinctive red and white hat

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Details around Princess Anne's hat are hard to come by, but it's most definitely a unique look! Part Super Mario Bros, part 1960s colour-block, the red and white hat captures the Princess Royal's fearlessness when it comes to making her own fashion moves. 

30. Queen Elizabeth's Easter hat, 2019

Queen Elizabeth in a colourful Easter hat for Maundy Thursday service

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One of the secrets of Her Majesty's style for her 70 year reign can be seen all in this hat she wore for a 2019 Easter service. The late Queen always opted for bright, bold colours so that everyone had a better chance of seeing her - and this hat looks like a whole Easter parade in one, with pops of yellow, purple and shades of blue. 

31. Queen Elizabeth's fluffy hat and turban, 2009

Queen Elizabeth in a fluffy hat at the unveiling of a statue for the Queen Mother

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Once again, the late Queen Elizabeth threw a fashion curveball. When many expected the traditional, Her Majesty showed up looking super cosy and in touch with more modern trends in a faux fur get-up which included a prominent hat.

32. Queen Camilla's structural leaf hat, 2014

Queen Camilla wore a distinct structural leaf hat in 2014

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This faux-leaf construction is one of the most interesting headpieces we've seen the royals were, akin to wearable art. Queen Camilla wore the structural piece back in 2014, choosing a shade which perfectly matched her light-blonde hair.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

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