Though yacht season is quickly coming to an end, the British royals are still spending their vacation at Balmoral, the family’s estate in northern Scotland where they grill, hike, and indulge in some togetherness. On Sunday, a large contingent—including King Charles, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh—made their way from the estate to nearby Crathie Kirk church, all dressed in a summertime version of their Sunday best. For Princess Kate, that meant wearing a tartan jacket and a dark brown fedora with a feather tucked into the band. She was photographed in the backseat of a car that Prince William was driving. Prince Andrew sat next to him in the passenger seat.
According to the Daily Mail, the hat was made by Hicks & Brown, a UK-based milliner. Founded by Alice Leet-Cook and Rosie Turner in 2014, the company makes an array of timeless hats inspired by the country lifestyle. It’s not the first time that Kate has worn one of their fedoras. In January 2020, she wore a striking royal blue hat to church once again, that time in Sandringham. Kate wore another fedora to church at Sandringham for Christmas 2022. That sage green fedora had a much wider brim, and was custom designed by Philip Treacy, but it’s still enough of a pattern that it’s safe to say that the Princess of Wales loves a church fedora!
It’s hard to tell exactly what message she might be sending beyond the obvious one, that she looks like she’s having a pretty great time and is obviously channeling her husband’s aunt, Princess Anne, who loves a fedora when she’s watching a horse race.
For most people, fedoras are associated with mid-century politicians and businessmen. They originally gained in popularity in both the US and the UK in the 1920s, as top hats, bowler hats, and other stiff hats went out of fashion. In his 2004 book Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora, and the Death of the Hat, writer Neil Steinberg noted that the “fedora was in step with what was seen as a general and welcome loosening of outdated Victorian rigidities.” As with Kate’s penchant for wearing accessible jewelry on her everyday engagements, perhaps she is modernizing the royal dress code in her own specific way.
We also can’t forget that Kate was young in the mid-2000s when fedoras became an item associated with hipsters. Maybe what she’s really saying is that she, too, hopes for a return to indie sleaze.