I think it’s an understatement to say that this past weekend was full of news. From the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s assassination to the skewering of Bedford resident Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to the release of the ever-anticipated long-form birth certificate, it was one headline-topper after another. It was almost enough to upstage the event the media has been covering breathlessly for the past month: the Royal Wedding. Almost.
Yes, today the marriage of the now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge feels like forever ago. And, really, like the Clinton/Mezvinsky wedding, there’s not that much that’ll keep it in the pop-cultural conversation. (Which is a good thing—it’s usually the bad stuff that sticks around.) Kate Middleton and her sister, Pippa, both looked gorgeous in understated dresses designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Princes William and Harry looked handsome in their military uniforms. William and Kate said their vows. They took a long carriage ride to Buckingham Palace. They kissed on the balcony. They ate fruitcake. (Yuck.) They’re not even going on a honeymoon right away. Though it was a beautiful occasion, after considering the events of the rest of the weekend, there’s not that much to keep the wedding at the forefront of pop culture.
Except this one thing.
I am talking about Princess Beatrice’s hat.
Hats are something Americans don’t really get to begin with. We wear them mostly to sporting events. Even our fanciest millinery is reserved for the Kentucky Derby. But over in the UK, formal hats are the norm.
That still doesn’t explain how we, as Americans, are supposed to understand the cream-colored, vertical bow worn by Princess Beatrice, daughter of Andrew and Sarah, the Duke and Duchess of York. (Can you imagine sitting behind that thing in Westminster Abbey?) And so we did what we always do: we turned it into an Internet joke.
For starters, the hat got its own Facebook page. So far, “Princess Beatrice’s ridiculous Royal Wedding hat” (capitalization theirs, not mine) is “liked” by 123,927 people. That is 29,500 more than Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat.
Then there are at least two other websites where creative folks can Photoshop the hat into other contexts. The first, princessbeatriceshat.com, is a little more high-minded. (“Frankly, Beatrice, I don’t give a damn.”) The other, princessbeatriceandherhat.tumblr.com, is more likely to point out the hat’s similarity to female internal anatomy.
I think all of the fun-making is because we really don’t understand the hat. But Philip Treacy—the designer of that hat and many others worn at the wedding (including Victoria Beckham’s, which is not nearly so strange-looking to these Yankee eyes)—doesn’t really offer any help for those struggling with trying to figure it out. “My inspiration was beauty and elegance; it’s a twenty-first-century royal wedding,” Treacy told Hollywoodlife.com. “I thought they looked gorgeous and beautiful. But no one is crying if anyone didn’t.”
“How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about,” he continues. “It’s about making you feel like a million dollars so when you’ve got something beautiful on your head, and the head is the most important part of the body to embellish, because it’s what you meet. When you’re wearing something on your head you feel beautiful.”
Got it now? I sure don’t. But maybe his words ring true for you and you were taken with them. If you’re thinking of getting your own Treacy creation, unfortunately there are no stockists in the Hudson Valley, but they are available in select Saks stores, Neiman Marcus locations, and Samuel’s Hats in Manhattan, in addition to a few other locations. There are also a couple available on eBay for around $150.
But what I really, really want to know is how Beatrice attached that thing to her head.
Any theories? Let me know in the comments.