Queen Elizabeth II is famous for her tight-lipped discretion when it comes to politics. Once dubbed ‘Elizabeth the Silent’ by the The New York Times, she has never given a press interview and doesn’t vote in general elections. But sometimes, a hat says a thousand words. According to some, anyway.
Her Majesty wore a blue hat adorned with a circle of yellow-centred flowers to deliver the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday (21 June) – a design that many Twitter users observed bore more than a passing resemblance to the European Union flag.
Given that much of her speech focused on Brexit, it’s not surprising if paying tribute to the EU was at the forefront of the Queen’s mind (and on top of her head).
The Queen, who traditionally wears a crown and ceremonial robes to open parliament, was forced to wear more casual attire this year due to timing issues caused by the snap election. The BBC reports that this was the first state opening with “reduced ceremonial elements” since 1974.
But while many people seemed to hope that the Queen’s hat betrayed her true feelings about the EU, it’s not entirely clear where she actually stands on Brexit.
It has been rumoured that – like many people of her generation – she initially thought the UK made the right decision in voting for Brexit. Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, said in December that the Queen told guests at a private lunch: “I don’t see why we can’t just get out [of the EU]. What’s the problem?”
Kuenssberg said that she had been told the story by an unnamed contact who was at the lunch, but that she was unable to verify it with a second source and so did not take it to the BBC. The Sun later ran a similar story under the headline “Queen backs Brexit”. This claim was vociferously denied by Buckingham Palace, leading to a successful complaint to press regulator Ipso.
If the Queen had changed her mind on whether Brexit was a good idea, she wouldn’t be the only one. A poll conducted by YouGov for The Times newspaper in April found that 45% of British voters thought the UK had made the wrong decision in voting to leave the EU, compared to 43% who still believed that withdrawing was right for the country. (Some 12% said that they didn’t know.)
However, it’s also entirely possible that neither the Queen – nor a single one of her aides – noticed the resemblance between her choice of headgear and the EU flag, and this was simply an innocent mistake.
But we much prefer the image of Her Majesty throwing open the door of her walk-in hat wardrobe, calling gleefully over her shoulder: “I’m really going to screw with them today, Philip.”
Image: Rex Features