It’s not very often you see the Queen wearing a hat backwards… and it’s even less often that it’s intentional, but that was the case when Her Majesty was in Malaysia in 1998 – and for good reason!
Angela Kelly, the Queen’s dressmaker and longtime close confidante, once revealed she urged Her Majesty to wear a coral hat the wrong way around when the monarch closed the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Angela, who has worked for the Queen for decades, wrote about the incident in her new book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe. Excerpts from the book were serialized in issue 686 of HELLO! Canada in November 2019.
The decision came about by total accident, when Angela became concerned the hat would not suit the Queen or be complimentary.
"As the morning went on, I became increasingly worried, so I decided I had to raise my concern and face the consequences later," she wrote.
"So, I waited for the Queen to come into the dressing room, took a deep breath, and said, 'Your Majesty, I don't think you should wear this hat. It is not the right design for you and it won't suit you.' A long silence followed before she eventually looked up and said, 'Well, it is a bit late now. What else can I wear? I must wear it.' Although I admired her pragmatic approach, I was insistent. I told her I had been examining the hat from all angles and that it would be better worn back to front."
The Queen did not agree, but Angela said if she wanted a second opinion, she should speak to Prince Philip, who was with her on the trip at the time. Angela told Her Majesty she could count on the Duke of Edinburgh for the unvarnished truth, which he always told her.
"At this point, I left the room feeling somewhat terrified, as you can imagine," she wrote. "Before long, Her Majesty called me back. She had consulted His Royal Highness and, after an amusing conversation, in which I imagine The Duke didn't hold back, the Queen had decided to wear the hat the wrong way around, as I had suggested."