Writing into the Light…

Finding my way with words…

The Royal Bonnet

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Only 48 hours to go before the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey!  The world attention is, and has been, on London for months leading up to the royal nuptials which begin for me at 4 AM on Friday should I accept my digital invitation.

In a world desperate for a happy occasion to celebrate, Brits and Americans have gone more than a little overboard with preparations.  British citizens attending in person or in the crush of humanity on the public streets will be dressed to the nines, which for those from the UK will include a royal bonnet.  Many Americans apparently are also cleaning the good silver, breaking out the bone china cups and saucers, organizing the tea, ordering the crumpets and carefully choosing a wardrobe for that early morning celebration worthy of a visit to the House of Windsor.  What to wear… what to wear??

I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  I remained there except for an 18 month time period near St. Louis in the late 1960’s.  The past 8 years have been on the coast of southern Maine.  It’s a strange thing about hats.  The Brits seem to love their royal bonnets.  From my perspective, Americans are predominantly hat free except for the Easter Parade and the Kentucky Derby.  That observation may have more to do with where I have lived and my own cultural background than a broad American cultural statement!.

As a child, Easter was always big doins’ fashion-wise.  There was always an Easter dress or as an older child, a suit, shiny patent leather shoes, usually black, it was BEFORE Memorial Day after all!  Depending on how early or late Easter fell in the calender, there may have been a spring weight Easter coat.  Topping it all off, an Easter Bonnet.  My Easter bonnets were mass produced and cheap.  They came from department stores and discount stores.

On only one occasion in my life have I visited a millinery shop.   When I first moved to Maine I joined The Red Hat Society to meet new people.  Membership required a  purple outfit (a cinch for me!) topped with a red hat.  I searched the stores with no luck.  Overcome with visions of Miss Irene  Molloy’s Millinery Shop in Yonkers and the sound of  her dancing around the shop singing “I’ll Be Wearing Ribbons Down my Back” I danced off to my own Hello Dolly moment at Queen of Hats in Portland, Maine.

The first step in the process was to choose the hat base shape.  It is at best difficult to find “just the right size and shape” hat when you hate hats!  It required starting from the premise that this “garment” will ruin my hairdo, give me “hat hair,” make me sweat so that I wind up with wet stringy hair under the hat and draw added attention to what I consider an “ugly mug.”   It further presumes I could find a hat that was such a knockout  it would make me willing to embrace that experience!  Humph… add fabric around the crown, flowers, feathers, baubles and beads.  Voila!  A royal custom designed bonnet fit for a queen!

Friday morning, I will rise early, put on the water for tea (which I will brew in the London scenes tea pot I purchased at a Heathrow gift shop twenty years ago) and bring out the biscuits and jam (hard to find clotted cream in Portland).  I purchased a silver pin depicting the insignia of the House of Windsor in the gift shop at Windsor Castle.  Friday morning I will be pinning it on the lapel of my lavender fleece robe.  The cotton blend night shirt topped with floor length lavender fleece robe ensemble will be topped off with the only REAL hat I have ever owned… that being defined as custom designed by a millinery artist.  At 4 AM I need to be comfortable, yet I do not want to disrespect the royal family ~ thus the compromise outfit.

What will you be wearing???


Author: Carol R Craley

I am a former Philadelphia suburbanite who moved to Maine in 2002 ~ a former art educator ~ former school administrator ~former college and graduate school instructor ~ a writer ~an artist ~ and a photographer. I am currently mom to two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels named Emma and Sara and a rescued kitty from Georgia ~ so that is her name. I am inspired by nature, great music, art and writing that makes me ponder the world...

One thought on “The Royal Bonnet

  1. I adore hats, and I’ve always been a bit envious of the British tradition of wearing them to weddings in general. I may never go to the Kentucky Derby (or Winterthur; they seem to have a hat event each year), but weddings? I’ve been to lots of those. I may miss the live royal proceedings owing to the fact that I will get home from work about two hours before they begin, but I will don what hats I can this summer; the cheerfully decorated straw hat that keeps me from sunburned ear-tips, and my personal favorite, my giant-brimmed indestructible denim hat reserved for my most prolonged down and dirty gardening efforts.

    Perhaps I should add a pin!

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