These are the hat rules Meghan and Kate have to follow

The ultimate royal accessory

(Image credit: 2018 Max Mumby/Indigo)

As we know, there are many, many rules the royal family has to follow, from what they can eat and can't eat, right down to their wardrobe choices, including their hats.

For example, not every woman in the family can wear a tiara - they have to be married first - nor can they wear diamonds before 6pm.

There are also strict guidelines when it comes to the likes of Meghan and Kate wearing hats, as it turns out. Obviously, there was a time when wearing hats was the norm, and up until the 1950s, the Queen and Princess Margaret were rarely seen in public without a headpiece.

According to Diana Mather, a senior tutor for The English Manner etiquette consultancy, 'ladies were very seldom seen without a hat as it was not considered "the thing" for ladies to show their hair in public'.

This wasn't just a rule for the royal family either, as hats were worn in public by both men and women of different classes then. However, as fashion has become more relaxed, hats have become less of a thing.

However, this isn't the case for royal women, who are still expected to wear them to formal appearances, such as Trooping the Colour and the polo.

But as with diamonds and tiaras, there is a time frame involved, and hats are strictly restricted to daywear. Come 6pm, they can be swapped over for tiaras should the occasion call for them.

Here are just some of the royal hat rules, you never knew. 

Why do British royals wear hats?

British royals wear hats because it was etiquette, and the tradition has continued. 

As Diana highlighted up until the fifties royals, such as the Queen and Princess Margaret were hardly ever seen in public without headpiece. 

For some royal engagements Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle may be without a headpiece, such as visits to schools. 

However, when it comes to formal occasions, such as coronations, weddings, funerals, or the races, the female royals will be seen wearing a hat or fascinator. 

What kind of hats do royals wear?

The royals wear a whole host of hats. 

The late Queen Elizabeth II has adorned an array of hats over the years, from Halo, and Matador, to headbands, fascinators, bowler hats, turban and more. 

In recent years, the late monarch was more frequently spotted in Matador styles, which are similar to the Boater, but has a flat crown, which is often a little taller in height. 

Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton are often spotted wearing dome hats, which are often fitted on a slant, can vary between large rims or smaller designs. 

Fascinators and headbands are also popular headpieces for the female royals to wear.

Should a fascinator match shoes or dress?

This is down to personal preference. 

But, take a look at the late Queen Elizabeth II's style and she often would co-ordinate her hat with her outfit, no matter what bold colour palette she was opting for.  

We think it's a super chic statement style to opt for to avoid clashing patterns and prints. 

In most cases, Kate Middleton follows suit and matches her hat, or fascinator, with her outfit. 

But on some occasions, if she is wearing blue with white detail on her dress, she may pick out the colour on the detailing for her accessories, such as the embroidered Catherine Walker coat she wore to mark the Queen's 90th birthday, which she completed with an ivory headpiece. 

Timing is essential

When it comes to royal engagements, female members of the royal family are never without a hat. 

There have been an increase in searches for how long you should wear a hat, and if you keep a hat, or fascinator, on all day. 

However, according to the royal hat rules, you can ditch the accessory after a certain time.

Diana Mather previously told the BBC: "The old rule is that hats are never worn indoors after 6 p.m., because that is when the ladies changed into evening dress, and tiaras and the family jewels would come out.

“Flashy diamonds and tiaras are not worn during the day."

Relationship status

It is assumed all members of the royal family must wear a hat, or tiara, for a formal royal occasion, but that's not necessarily true. 

While Diana revealed "flashy diamonds" and bejewelled headpieces are not worn during the daytime, they are also not to be worn by single females. 

She previously told the BBC: "Only married ladies wear tiaras.”

Former royal butler, Grand Harrold, also weighed in on the matter. 

He previously told the BBC: "For married ladies [a tiara was traditionally] a sign of status and would show you were taken and not looking for a husband.

“For the gentlemen it was a clear sign not to make advances towards the lady in question.”

What size hat do royals wear?

The size of the hat is very specific. 

Those who attend Royal Ascot may already be aware of some of the royals around the specifics when it comes to wearing a hat for the race day. 

However, these rules extend further, and even outside the annual event in almost everyone's calendar.

Lisa Forde, Director of Tree of Hearts, previously told Woman & Home the size of a royal's hat is measured in conjunction with their outfit. 

She explained: "If an A-Line skirt is selected, it is important to ensure that the hat's brim width balances out the volume of the skirt. If the outfit is very tailored, a more simple hat will be selected."

While millinery expert, Janie Lawson, previously told the publication: "The Royals tend to wear larger hats for more somber occasions. Larger hats are more traditional and thus they are a great way to add gravitas to an outfit."

Royal-approved milliners

There are a number of milliners the royal family typically turn to when it comes to a formal occasion to create their showstopping headpieces, including: 

  • Philip Treacy 
  • Rachel Trevor-Morgan
  • John Boyd
  • Jane Taylor Hats
Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.