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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

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…

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Crown Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, 2004

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.

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Cowgirl Kate Middleton, 2011

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.

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Meghan Markle's Trooping the Colour debut, 2018

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.

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Queen Elizabeth II's 'EU' hat, 2017

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.

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Princess Anne's Coronation feather, 2023

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.

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Duchess Sophie's snakeskin hat, 2005

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.

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Queen Camilla's feathered headpiece, 2005

At the wedding of her son, Tom Parker Bowles, 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.

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Meghan Markle's funeral hat, 2022

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.

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Kate Middleton's yellow flower hat, 2022

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.

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Queen Máxima at Queen Letizia's wedding, 2004

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

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Princess Margaret's daisies hat, 1969

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.

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Zara Tindall's huge wedding hat, 2011

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.

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Princess Diana's pillbox hat, 1995

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.

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Princess Beatrice's butterfly fascinator, 2008

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.

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Queen Elizabeth's traditional Scottish hat, 1980

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.

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Meghan Markle's emerald hat, 2020

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.

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Kate Middleton's furry hat, 2018

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.

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Queen Camilla's huge feathered hat, 2005

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.

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Princess Catherine's funeral hat and veil, 2022

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.

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

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.

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Queen Elizabeth's Easter hat, 2019

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.

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Queen Elizabeth's fluffy hat and turban, 2009

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.

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Queen Camilla's structural leaf hat, 2014

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.

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Princess Beatrice's Philip Treacy hat, 2011

What other hat could we end 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.

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