Americans are confused about the hats at the royal wedding

19th May 18 | Weddings

If you've also been wondering why women wear headgear to watch people tie the knot, we've got the answer.

Royal wedding

Perusing guests’ outfits is one of the best things about the royal wedding, and today gave us hundreds of them, from celebrities and royals alike.

Serena Williams, Amal Clooney, Pippa Middleton and Oprah Winfrey were widely considered some of the best-dressed attendees, but there’s one element of royal wedding fashion that left some viewers perplexed.

According to Google Trends, the sight of so many hats and headpieces caused many Americans to turn to the search engine for answers to their burning headwear questions.

‘What is a fascinator?’ and ‘Why do British women wear hats?’ were among the most googled millinery questions during the wedding in the United States, while on Twitter, the guests’ headwear choices were dividing opinion…

The answer to the first question is relatively simple. A fascinator is essentially a small hat – no more than four inches in diameter – that attaches to the head with clips or pins.

Often featuring floral or feather embellishment, it’s a fashionable alternative for those who must adhere to a strict dress code, but don’t want to wear a hat.

As for why hats are worn at weddings, that’s a bit more complicated.

“Hats are part of the protocol for any royal wedding – it’s a part of history, as women were not allowed to show their hair until the 1950s,” explains fashion designer Aruna Seth. “So the hat tradition has carried on amongst royal events.”

Royal wedding
Members of the Royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Countess of Wessex, watch as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride in an open-topped carriage through Windsor Castle after their wedding in St George’s Chapel (Andrew Milligan/PA)

It can’t just be any old trilby or cap, however, Seth warns:

“Hats must be elegant and feminine to match the event. They need to be in keeping with the status of the guest.”

But there’s a limit to the fabulousness.

“Nothing too big or ostentatious,” Seth says, which may be why Princess Beatrice chose a more subtle creation today, after her bow-topped Philip Treacy number got so much attention at the royal wedding in 2011.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s ceremony certainly had its share of stunning hats and fascinators. Here’s our pick of the best from the royal wedding.

Royal wedding
Amal Clooney wore a mustard yellow hat by Stephen Jones to match her Stella McCartney dress (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Lady Kitty Spencer
Lady Kitty Spencer chose an emerald green fascinator with sculptural detailing (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Victoria Beckham leaves St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Victoria Beckham wore a navy fascinator positioned on the crown of her head to match her navy dress (Chris Radburn/PA)
Oprah Winfrey arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Oprah Winfrey chose a large blush pink hat with frothy feathered embellishment (Ian West/PA)
Serena Williams arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Serena Williams opted for a delicate pink fascinator (Gareth Fuller/PA)

You can watch highlights from the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 3Player now.

© Press Association 2018