Queen Elizabeth wears a mauve straw hat decorated With violets designed by milliner Philip Somerville during her official tour of Singapore in October 1989.
Growing up in an era when hats were de rigueur for
ladies, the Queen has continued to wear hats throughout her
lifetime. They flatter her face, complement her clothes, and make
her stand out in the crowd. Because she is one of the most
photographed women on the planet, hat brims must never be allowed
to conceal her face - berets, pillbox hats, turban-shaped
hats and hats with upturned brims have always been popular. The
crowns were designed to protect her carefully set hair, the style
and colour had to match her outfits (she never wears hats in a
contrasting colour), and the materials had to be striking and
As with her clothes designers, the Queen has favoured a select band milliners throughout her reign. Simone Mirman, a French emigrée who had run the millinery department at the French couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, came to the Queen's attention when she started making hats for Norman Hartnell. She had succeeded in bringing French flair and ingenuity to rationed wartime Britain and had become much sought after in society circles. She was eventually granted royal warrants by the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret as well as the Queen. Mirman made the Queen's famous Tudor-style headdress, which she wore for the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales, in 1969.
Australian-born Freddie Fox came to the Queen's attention when Hardy Amies asked him to design five hats for a royal tour in 1968. He was granted a royal warrant and went on to design more than 350 hats for the Queen over a period of 34 years.
Phillip Somerville, from New Zealand, began designing hats for the Queen under Ian Thomas's label and, from 1988, under his own name. He became a royal warrant-holder in 1994. According to Somerville: "The main thing is the hat has to stay on in any calamity, wind or rain, without the Queen having to hold it on. I have to make certain it sits on and stays on. I usually use two hat-pins. The Queen told me once she had never lost a hat."