It’s the hat that almost stole the show at the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and now the man who designed it has revealed that it made as big an impression on him as it did on the rest of us. Milliner Philip Treacy has admitted that the reaction to the hat he created for Princess Beatrice to wear at William and Kate’s wedding was so vociferous, he wondered whether it would end with ‘’my head on a spike outside the Tower of London’’.
That jokey response, on BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs, shows just how big an impact Beatrice’s famous hat had. Speaking to Kirsty Young, Philip Treacy said his creation was ‘’a very modern hat, and modernity is always unusual things’’. The beige topper, most often described as a ‘’pretzel’’, won plenty of attention and quite a lot of criticism at the Royal Wedding of 2011. It became so well known that when it was auctioned for charity on eBay afterwards, it brought in over £80,000 with the money going to Unicef and Children in Crisis.
The milliner, who grew up in County Galway, also had high praise for The Queen and other Windsor women for their support of the hat industry. He told the programme that ‘’the patronage of the Royal Family keeps hats alive’’. And he highlighted how royal events could give a big boost to the trade, describing Ascot as ‘’Christmas’’ as he and other milliners are called on to make so many hats for that one week of the year.
Philip Treacy has been designing hats for royalty for decades. He was responsible for the gold headpiece chosen by the Duchess of Cornwall for the blessing that followed her civil marriage to the Prince of Wales in April 2005. More recently, the Duchess of Sussex chose a Philip Treacy hat for her first Christmas Day at Sandringham and wore another creation for her Ascot debut last month. Several royal women, including the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge, wore the Irish milliner’s designs at the Royal Wedding in May.
But however much you enjoyed those hats, you can admit amongst friends that it’s the pretzel he thought might turn the Monarchy medieval that still sticks in the imagination. Beatrice’s hat continues to make a big impression, all this time on.