The Princess Royal allegedly had hesitations about the hat with dramatic plume
Princess Anne raised concerns about wearing a hat that blocked Prince Harry, who sat behind her at the coronation, according to a new book.
The plume of the hat covered the Duke of Sussex's face from certain angles, making headlines.
Royal author Robert Hardman says the snafu wasn't deliberate, with Princess Anne switching seats at the last moment so she could quickly exit.
The Princess Royal, 73, raised concerns that the black bicorn hat with red plume was too large to wear at her elder brother’s crowning ceremony at Westminster Abbey in May 2023 but was encouraged to wear it anyway, Hardman writes in The Making of a King: King Charles III and the Modern Monarchy, serialized in the Daily Mail and out Jan. 18. Though social media users made much of the fact that Princess Anne’s cap feather blocked Harry's face in much of the coronation broadcast, the Daily Mail reported that Hardman says it wasn’t deliberate.
“This is nonsense. Not only do the Lord Chamberlain's Office not think like that, but the Princess Royal had only switched to that seat after her request for a speedy exit,” Hardman writes in his new book. Princess Anne had to saddle up for her role as Gold-Stick-in-Waiting and join the procession of 6,000 armed services personnel to Buckingham Palace after the crowning.
“ ’The hat was an interesting question,' the Princess recalled later. 'I said: ‘Are you sure you want me to keep the hat on? Because it's quite a decent-sized hat.’ And the answer was yes. There you go. Not my choice,’ ” Hardman quotes Princess Anne as saying in The Making of A King.
Before the May 6 coronation, the Princess Royal joked in a CBC News interview that participating in the procession as Gold-Stick-in-Waiting and wearing the uniform reflecting her colonelcy of the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Calvary “solves my dress problem” for the historic day.
She processed into Westminster Abbey with her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, and took a seat in the second row of a section reserved for members of the royal family. The spot fell in front of her nephew the Duke of Sussex, who traveled in from California — where he lives with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their two young children — to see his father crowned. In photos from the church service, Harry smiled as his aunt took her seat. She kept the hat on throughout the ceremony.
The Making of a King sheds new light on Queen Elizabeth’s death in September 2022 and the early days of King Charles’ reign, including Princess Anne's reaction to being hugged by a senior staff member following her mother's death.
As Princess Anne waited outside Balmoral Castle to greet her brother, the new sovereign, in the moments after their mother's death at age 96, a staffer offered her a brief hug after noticing that the royal appeared visibly distressed.
"There then followed a wry smile. ‘That is the last time that’s going to happen,' the Princess said firmly," Hardman writes.
While other members of the family were in England, Princess Anne was coincidentally in Scotland when Queen Elizabeth's health turned for the worst. She and Angela Kelly, the Queen's senior dresser and trusted confidante, took turns by the monarch's bedside. The Rev Kenneth MacKenzie, a seasoned minister at the nearby Crathie Kirk, joined them, reading passages to the Queen from her Bible.
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Charles and his wife Camilla (now Queen Camilla) also spent an hour with Queen Elizabeth privately at her bedside in the hours before she died, according to the book. They then retreated to Charles' nearby home on the Balmoral estate before receiving a call from Princess Anne to hurry back to the castle as the Queen's death was drawing near.
Hardman shared a memo of the monarch's final moments from her private secretary, Sir Edward Young, who was at Balmoral when the Queen died.
"Very peaceful. In her sleep. Slipped away. Old age. She wouldn't have been aware of anything. No pain," Young noted in the previously unseen memo that's now part of the Royal Archives, according to Daily Mail.
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