Robert Lacey: The Queen’s hats indicate that she ‘is indentured to a service’

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visits the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down science park near Salisbury, southern England, on October 15, 2020. - The Queen and the Duke of Cambridge visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) where they were to view displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence, a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation and meet staff who were involved in the Salisbury Novichok incident. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness also formally opened the new Energetics Analysis Centre.

Queen Elizabeth wears hats most of the time. At some point, she just really began feeling the Big Hat Energy. Personally, I think the matching hats are kind of cheeseball most of the time, but “Hats” are Petty Liz’s brand at this point. But did you ever stop to consider that perhaps the Queen’s hats are some kind of symbol of indentured servitude? Robert Lacey argues that in a new book:

Even if you haven’t seen photos of Queen Elizabeth’s most recent daytime appearance, you can probably envision what she was wearing: a vibrantly-hued coat, a matching hat, black shoes and a bespoke bag. While each piece is part of the monarch’s royal “uniform,” her hats hold a special significance.

“Very few modern women wear a hat as part of their work uniform, aside from perhaps members of the armed forces,” British historian Robert Lacey explained to fashion journalist Elizabeth Holmes for her new book, HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style.

“‘It’s a reminder that the Queen is indentured to a service, to a job,'” he said, according to the book, which was published on Tuesday.

[From People]

The idea of the colonizer-in-chief being “indentured” is some kind of white bullsh-t. I get that the Queen is all about “duty” and she believes that God appointed her to the throne or whatever. I get it – she’s stuck in a job she hates and she’s been doing this sh-t for nearly 70 years. But people who are actually “indentured” don’t have the option of ABDICATION. You don’t get to throw around a word like “indentured” when the petty B lives in her choice of ten castles and has a full staff waiting on her hand and foot. You don’t get to use the word “indentured” when she ran off the first Black woman to join the family. And “hats” do not equal “indentured,” my f–king God.

As for this book, it’s based on Elizabeth Holmes’ popular Wall Street Journal column where she analyzes royal fashion and the power of royal clothing. Here’s a bit of what Holmes says about Petty Liz’s style:

“Nobody dresses like the Queen. And nobody probably ever will. It is a very singular look that she has devised, and she’s committed to it. I loved talking about the Queen’s style with some really wonderful fashion experts, [who explained] that it’s not her job to be trendy. Can you imagine how unstable right now it would be to see the Queen flipping from one designer to the next, or trying out to different trends? There is something immensely calming in her consistency.”

Queen Elizabeth may have her own unique style, but she shares fashion sensibilities with her granddaughter-in-law, Kate. They both value clothing for its functionality and view it as part of the “job” of being a royal. Since joining the royal family in 2011, Kate has grown increasingly conscious of the power of her clothing choices — and more confident, Holmes writes.

“As she’s grown into her role, we see her in some very queen-like outfits,” Holmes says. “The candy-colored coat dresses are meant to be seen, the ways in which she still abides with some of the more formal fashion practices of wearing even nude pantyhose, or hairnets on occasion — you could just sort of imagine [the Queen and Kate] getting dressed to go to work. Because that’s what this is, that’s just the job….These women are operating within guard rails. They are not just celebrities, who can do or wear what they please. They are part of this institution and working in service to the crown. Their appearances come with a certain set of expectations. People want them to be fancy and worthy of their royal titles, but also frugal, responsible stewards of the taxpayer money. That line of stylish and sensible is actually really hard to walk. And I admire both of them for the ways in which they’ve done it.”

[From People]

I think there’s something to the idea that a Queen should be “above” fashion trends, but I also think there’s just a profound lack of imagination around the Queen, and a complete misunderstanding of what kind of consistency people actually want? I mean, does Britain really *want* a 90-something Queen to just wear the same old Mad Hatter hats and candy-colored coats for forty years just because of “consistency”? It’s fine that Liz isn’t a fashionista, but it’s like she just hates anything with personality, anything fun, anything modern (or even just from 20 years ago), and she looks down on people who *do* enjoy fashion and trends, etc. And yes, I agree that Kate dresses like a 94-year-old a lot of the time.

Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge attends the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph on Sunday 10 November 2019


Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN and Backgrid.

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65 Responses to “Robert Lacey: The Queen’s hats indicate that she ‘is indentured to a service’”

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  1. atorontogal says:

    Her hair and her purse have been consistent for decades. I don’t get it personally. I change my hairstyle every couple of years and I’m old (58)!

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      This is such a predictable move. Her son and his mistress wife gets bad press and boom, an article about the one who is above reproach and a reminder that she has ‘served’ us plebs all her life. Of course her style has changed over the years but it has been consistent for the past 20. She does wear really bright colours though as she is very tiny and wants to stand out. Her grand daughter in law on the other hand has no defined style other than what she cosplays.

      • Charlie says:

        The consistency of style for the last 20 years is down to Anglea Kelly being solely responsible for the design and construction of the Queen’s wardrobe – including most of her hats. There is a milliner called Rachel Trevor-Morgan who occasionally creates one of the queen’s hat – and you can tell the difference in quality/style.

        Let’s face it – at 94 the queen’s wardrobe is down to whatever comfort she can manage while dressing for appearances. But at 94 she needs to stop the appearances. Her refusal to abdicate is just self-inflicted servitude and a disservice to her country, her family and her legacy. You can serve your country without a crown – millions in military, political, medical, law, etc. do so every day- minus the martyrdom.

      • windyriver says:

        Angela Kelly has been with her for at least the last 20 years, likely influenced her current style and is why it’s been so consistent.

    • Bibi says:

      The queen wants to wears hats all the time because she is losing her hair and she probably has a big bald spot in the back and on top too. And she looks less stupid if everyone wears one too so it is “protocol” now. As simple as that.

      • minx says:

        Yes, at her age it’s perfectly understandable that she would wear hats. No problem. “Indentured to a service?!” Please. It never ceases to amaze me that people think what the BRF does is some kind of admirable “work.”

      • derps says:

        @minx – Yeah, she is not indentured. Indentured servants don’t make money, they work in lieu of paying off a debt. But the British Queens has loads of money and gets more every year. I’m skeptical hat wearing even has this symbolism; why have we never heard about it before, ever, from anyone, about any royal whatsoever? BUT, if she in particular is wearing hats with the intent to communicate such a thing, it is only theater or dress up. It’s not real.

    • As most women no longer wear hats on a day-to-day basis I’ve always thought there was a decision by the Firm, somewhere in the past, to see their hat wearing as a modern “crown.” Us versus them if you will; a way to separate themselves from the herd.

  2. Seraphina says:

    I understand the thought behind her being above fashion, but I fully agree Liz has no imagination when it comes to clothing. It’s seen throughout her life on the thrown. Her clothing is bland. Something she and Kate have in common.
    And yes, the indentured servant statement is BS. Massive eyeroll from me. And its tone deaf.

    • Kalana says:

      I think one of the points made successfully by The Crown is that the Queen loves her job and she tailors it to fit her lifestyle. She still lives her country life and enjoys her horse racing. She hates certain things like watching tennis so she doesn’t do it. She can’t be bothered to be an involved parent to her children so she doesn’t do it but she has plenty of time for horse racing and country pursuits.

      And everything and everyone around her is expected to do as she likes. Maybe in the begining there were problems with gender roles and wanting to be a posh navy wife but for decades now I think the Queen has been quite happy with things as they are.

      It’s everyone else who has to jump through hoops around her and she feels completely entitled to that. If you don’t subjugate your life to her wishes, you are neglecting your duty which is serving her and that includes completely stupid things like changing your clothes multiple times a day. They’ve created a protocol around serving one person’s personality.

      If she had been the wife of Lord Porchester, she would have shaken fewer hands but she would still had the social obligations and there would have been concerns about money.

    • downtherabbithole says:

      Apparently she’s worn more than 5,000 during her reign…that doesn’t sound all that thrifty:
      Also, Kate owns an estimated 150 custom overcoats – none of which are from the Salvation Army. Just because it’s bland doesn’t mean it’s “thrifty”.

      • yinyang says:

        Good point

      • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

        Let’s not forget as well…each one is between £3-5000 or more, and she’s not reworn more than 98% of them. Like just about all of her clothes (except the leggings and a few sweaters (jumpers for our BritCBers 😊).

        Which means they’re either covered away in a cooled wardrobe, given a few lesser known ones to Carole &/or Pip, or she’s Net-aPortered them and pocketed the cash. To me, the latter is the more probable.

        How very thrifty of the Top Keen Kingmaker CEO.

      • JanetDR says:

        I enjoyed looking through those hats! Although mostly because they were so ugly 😂. I kind of like what the Queen wears now, the bright coats and hats suit her.
        I wish she saw stepping down as her duty.

      • twoz says:

        Call me pedantic, but I cringed when they referred to the Queen as ‘Her Royal Highness’ when she’d been ‘Her Majesty’ for 65 years at the time the article was written.
        I mean, it’s not as if there isn’t Google and Wikipedia to check…

  3. Becks1 says:

    I can see the hat as being the Queen’s “thing” and a symbol of….something….but indentured is absolutely not the right way to put it. That’s actually kind of gross.

    What Holmes completely misses is that the Queen dresses the way she does now because she’s 94 and she’s not changing her style at this late game, but she HAS dressed in a trendier way over the decades, especially on formal occasions.

    As for Kate – well Holmes is a Kate devotee and has said some pretty bad things about Meghan, which she tried to clean up around the time of the Emily Giffin debacle, but I’ll just say that again, she overlooks that Kate does NOT always dress in a consistent manner. She wears jeggings to official events, sometimes she wears boring coatdresses, sometimes she tries to be a lot more fashion-forward, etc. Its like she cant decide.

    And also Kate doesn’t have a frugal bone in her body.

    • Levans says:

      Exactly Becks, Kate can’t commit to what version of a royal she wants to be. Diana was fashionable for the time but Kate’s version is stuck in the 80s. Diana wasn’t dressing from the 50s, she was in the 80s and 90s dressing for those times. When Kate is cosplaying the Queen it makes he look so dated, not classic. And now Kate is cosplaying Meghan…maybe that would go better for her.

    • Nic919 says:

      Kate does not dress for functionality. She dresses with a child’s understanding of things hence we get all the theme dressing because she has no depth of thought. She is also the opposite of thrifty with her multiple outfits that resemble each other but not exactly thus costing the taxpayers needlessly to help Kate compensate for her empty life.

      • Seraphina says:

        @Nic919, would love to see Kate’s theme dressing if they had a circus to attend with the kids – since they are “normal” average people like all of us.

    • Cava24 says:

      This is another example of the media trying to equate symbols, traditions, protocol etc with actual work on the BRF’s behalf – “See, we need the queen because….Hats!.” I mean, the Queen does a lot of events but this family (the parts of it that are still working royals or aspiring working royals) wants everyone to score their work on their symbolism, not on their actual effort, labor, outcomes, etc.

    • Kalana says:

      Holmes has been scrambling to stay relevant.

  4. Melissa says:

    I think a lot of professional women develop a sort of “uniform” over the years of clothes they know are comfortable and flattering. They choose not to expend energy on deciding what to wear every day because they’re not that into fashion. On top of that TQ has said on multiple occasions that she wear bright colors and hats so people can see her, because they turn out to see her and she wants to make it easier to spot her in a crowd, probably because she’s so tiny.

    What a bizarre take on a non-story that TQ has addressed herself multiple times.

  5. Chill says:

    Also, all “Ladies” wore hats back in the day. It was a class symbol. I believe that the Queen wears a hat in lieu of a crown. Crowns aren’t worn during the day. Hats are.

    • Lizzie says:

      I agree with you Chill.

    • Seraphina says:

      Agreed. Kinda like that headband Kate wore at one of her kid’s baptisms. It was said to be symbolic of a crown.
      I for one ADORE hats and wear them every chance I get. It always made me sad to see them out of mainstream fashion here in the US.

  6. JT says:

    Is it considered a compliment to Kate that she dresses like a 94 year old woman? People say Kate dresses the way she does because she’s going to be queen, but that won’t be happening until she’s about 60, given the Windsor longevity. Kate is still a young woman, why would she put herself in the grandma box before it’s time too? And the queen was pretty trendy in her younger years, often wearing corsets and off the shoulder gowns.

  7. Miss Margo says:

    Help me understand. Millions of pounds from tax payers pay for this family full of cousins to live is disgusting wealth. And is it just me, or does the queen absolutely hate Charles? She has refused to abdicate all this time?! I just don’t understand… Maybe English people just really like having a queen…

    • yinyang says:

      This job is so easy a 94 can do it.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Apparently, for a woman at least, the “job” is wearing clothing. That’s it. That’s the level of misogyny that exists within a monarchy. A woman is judged on her clothing (and of course her race as well) and nothing else matters, such as lack of education, intelligence, and compassion.

      As for the hats themselves, I think they are hideous. I also hate that the younger women are pressured to wear hats. My hope was that now Meghan is back in the good ole USA, she can stop wearing hats. But I will say this about the queen — unlike all the other royal women in that family, the queen wears her hats as if she understands how hats work. The other women plaster hats to the SIDES of their heads. So we get pictures of them squinting in the sunlight despite wearing such wide-brimmed hats, because the hats are in the wrong location. It looks ridiculous, as if they’re too dumb to know how hats work (and maybe they are).

    • FicklePickle says:

      It helps make the BRF make sense if you stop thinking of it as a family or a business and start thinking of it as a cult.

      Queenie was chosen by God to lead his Chosen People and trying to turn away from God’s Orders is pointless because it’ll just turn out like that one guy from the Bible…what was his name, Elijah? Jonah? Whatever, God followed him like a slasher flick villain or a Mother telling you to take out the trash and found him no matter where he went and he had to do what God said anyways. At the very least Queenie herself (if not the entire Royal Industrial Complex) honestly believes that retiring before God says she can (by dying) is morally equivalent to, like, climbing up on top of the Church altar in the middle of Sunday service, hiking her skirts up, and shitting there in front of God and everybody.

      Plus, the woman was born in the 1920s and given a not very great quality exclusively homeschool education by very religious ultra-conservatives who were still moaning about the lost days of their youth in the GLORY of the Victorian Age when she took the throne in the 50s.

  8. Chaine says:

    What a dumb theory anyway. Maybe she wears a hat outdoors because, like actually many others of us, she wants to protect her skin and eyes from the sun? It’s just that the rest of us don’t own half a country, so we make do with one or two hats rather than wearing a new one every day.

    I do agree that the clothes we see on her in public are sort of her work uniform, though. If she wasn’t a queen she’d probably be in clamdiggers and a flowery cotton top and carrying a Vera Bradley bag like every other 94-year-old.

  9. VS says:

    What duty? can someone define that duty for me? what does she really do that impacts people lives?
    Even Charles despite his flaws has had more impact than her. Diana had, Harry has and Meghan as well…… perhaps because I expect measurable outcomes even out of charity.
    So can someone please define her “duty”?

  10. Belli says:

    She wears hats and bright colours so that people in the crowd can pick her out easily. It’s not that deep.

  11. Bishop says:

    But Kate doesn’t work/do anything at all. If that second paragraph had been about Anne it would have made sense.

  12. Dee says:

    It’s costuming for walking anachronisms. Kate’s is all cosplay of her late mother-in-law and the Queen. She’s what we call an empty suit. The Queen did have a fashion sense as a young woman and she chose some really imaginative hats in the 60s and 70s.

  13. Züri says:

    The hat also hints that she’s indentured to antiquated beliefs and norms and rather out of touch with contemporary realities. But everyone here already knew that.

  14. Amy Bee says:

    Let’s remember that Lacey doesn’t believe there’s racism in the UK. As for the queen, I’m sure I read or heard on some documentary that reason she wears hats was because she saw them as a substitute for her crown. I mean she probably thinks that way but I also think she’s stuck in the 1950s.

  15. Izzy says:

    It’s not indentured servitude if you have the option to abdicate from it. Slaves never got that option. GTFO with that rhapsodizing on a bunch of bespoke hats paid for by the masses.

  16. DS9 says:

    No one dresses like the queen.. except every old lady, first lady, and usher at a Black church.

  17. Untamed says:

    So many hats, yet only one style of shoe it seems.

  18. Nina says:

    When I was a little girl, I got a new coat and hat every year for Easter, and they were always matchy matchy in pretty pastel colors [with white gloves and either black or white patent leather shoes, of course]. I loved the look, if not the feel of them – one year it was lemon yellow and I absolutely adored wearing the set., and I was by no means a girly girl. When I look at TQ in her outfits, some part of me wishes I could wear those pretty outfits again! [I mean I could, but at 63 they would look a little weird.] I know she’s awful but I think some of her outfits are like eye candy.

    • Linda says:

      I’m 66 and sometimes I think what she is wearing is pretty. It’s not my style (shudders) but I love pastels. However, I do not love or even like Betty.

    • yinyang says:

      I’m forty but I can’t wait until I’m older so I can wear floral prints and cat sweatshirts and the best costume jewelry, it’s going to take a few more decades to be badass enough to pull it off.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    She wore some beautiful clothes when she was younger. Now she looks frankly awful. Middle class, cheap, and awful with her black shoes and matching bag for every outfit. Sorry I don’t feel the need to kiss up to a super rich old woman with no taste who’s been elevated without merit and who’s an absolute bitch to other women.

    • Carrie says:

      👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Spot on.

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      Don’t forget those awfully cheap looking floral dresses she wears under (yes, I know they cost a fortune to be hand made for her). But Hand to God, every time I catch a glimpse of one I flash onto Vicky Lawrence playing “Mama” on Mama’s family.

  20. Linda says:

    She has her own style. Nothing wrong with that. The fact that it’s really bad is synonymous with the image she has tried to portray. That of a middle class country woman. Smoke and mirrors for the unwashed.

  21. yinyang says:

    I don’t like fashion trends very much, I like to look consistent, I think it takes skill to stay consistent and not adhere to every trend and fad as it is to partake in them. I was just thinking the other day how nice it would be to have the entire of my favorite store in my closet, I’d never run out of things to wear, I’d have something for any and every occasion, and I’d never wear anything that doesn’t reflect my style. Queen found something that works for her and she’s sticking to it, Obama does the same thing, a lot of people do it.

  22. Shoo fly says:

    Oh yes, as the people of England rise every morning in their second lockdown, their out-of-touch buffoon of a Prime Minister floundering and “restructuring” his Cabinet again, having braced themselves to leave the European Union thanks to an irresponsible referendum, interfered with by Russia in support of fascism, called by another Posho Buffoon arrogant P.M, they can go on another day because of the Queen’s lack of change in her outfits.

    I believe it was Christopher Hitchens who remarked something like it was Americans who ate that crap up and it was disappointing they did, and he was right.

    I agree with every commentator who said the Queen loves being Queen! She doesn’t hate this job at all! She lords her “duty” over hundreds of people every day. The commentator above nailed it. And preach that every black church lady dresses like the Queen! So does every WASP doyenne of a certain age on the Upper East Side!

    • Maria says:

      It makes me laugh how so many Brits say things like “Only Americans follow the royals!”
      Not only is this untrue, but even if they follow them, the Brits are the ones *paying* for them, so the superiority is totally unwarranted.

  23. HeatherC says:

    So … wait. If the queen were to flit back and forth between Chanel, Dior, bespoke and Burberry (pulling random fashion names) Britain would fall into complete and utter anarchy?
    “Can you imagine how unstable right now it would be to see the Queen flipping from one designer to the next, or trying out to different trends?”

  24. Lowrider says:

    Royals are soooo useless!

    I am CONVINCED the media and the supposed experts make up 90 percent of these anecdotes.

  25. Amelie says:

    I was actually wondering when the Queen developed her “same hat, same coat, same bag” uniform and I guess it was when Angela Kelly became her official clothes designer? I quickly googled and she actually looked more fashionable in the 1990s and 1980s then when Angela Kelly started making her clothes. I get it at 94, she probably doesn’t give a toss about fashion and just wants to be comfortable and it’s just easier to slip into her uniform at that age. But I’m not a fan of Angela Kelly’s style. It is boring.

  26. Desert Lizard says:

    “And “hats” do not equal “indentured,” my f–king God.”

    Kaiser, I fucking love you.

  27. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Maybe the hats are lined with kevlar or something?

  28. Sarah says:

    I may be late to the party here but is THIS why Kate wore coat-dresses indoors and out for so long? She was trying to copy QE2 who is known for her coats???

  29. GuestwithCat says:

    Those hats are part of what makes Royal watching fun in my opinion. But it’s a lost opportunity for a famous elderly woman to show everyone that fashion and style don’t have to be frozen at a particular old lady uniform with its origins apparently from the 1930’s-50’s.

    My gorgeous mother-in-law passed away in her mid 80’s and left her wardrobe to me and my daughter and my sister-in-law. Sis is in her early 60’s, I’m mid 50’s and my daughter is now 16. There were beautiful stylish trendy clothes for all of us in her collection. Yes, a woman in her 80’s wore clothes a teenaged girl is proud to be seen in.

    We all remember how my mother-in-law looked in her clothes. She looked beautiful and stylish. She didn’t look weird or like she was trying too hard in the youthful styles at all. And her sparkling personality enabled her to pull any look off.

    Like the Queen, my MIL was a very small woman with short curly hair. She had plenty of wrinkles. Sometimes she had gray hair. Sometimes she didn’t. But she always looked beautiful and comfortable.

    Senior women don’t have to look like shapeless skittles always in the same silhouette, just a different color. They can still look a little bit sexy, actually, and show off a variety of diverse styles that feel current yet are still dignified and flattering. If she would retire that troll Angela and make the effort to work with different stylists, we could see the Queen illustrate that point.

    I really will never understand how these people could stand to be living museum pieces and never ever live in the times.

  30. Carolind says:

    I don’t give a damn what Kate wears but at 94 I think the Queen is entitled to wear what she wants – as we all should be. Some of her fashion choices when she was young were not great but I actually think her clothes are better since Angela Kelly took over.

    As for abdicating, she took the job on for life when she got crowned. She committed herself to the country when she was 21. I do think Charles should be made Regent though.

  31. Marigold says:

    I adore her hats and clothes. I know nothing about the Royal family other than photos, the Crown, my love for Diana and Meghan and what I I’ve learned on celebitchy.

    However I love their old dumpy looking clothes and hats as well as the bright colors. It has less to do with the Queen but rather because I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan and have always wanted to live in an English village. I’m also really horsey so it sounds like heaven. Also all the period British movies. Mr. Darcy please.