LONDON – A sea of feathers graced the heads of the rich and famous at the royal wedding Saturday, and the first among the spring creations adorned the new Duchess of Cornwall (search) — a coronet of gilded plumes tipped with crystals. Her 26-year-old daughter wore a towering creation of feathers and ribbons teased skyward like antlers.
In a country where the queen never appears bareheaded, millinery consciousness is bone-deep among the rich and famous, especially during "the season" — the round of spring and summer A-list parties.
The unique creations at Saturday's blessing ceremony for the newly wed Prince Charles (search) and Camilla towered as high as 12 inches above hairlines and ranged in color from demure creams to hot pinks — feathers artfully arranged on wide-brims or bunched saucily in small hairpieces.
Even Queen Elizabeth II (search), the prince's mother, wore a discreet spray of feathers on her wide-brimmed, pale yellow and white floral print.
But at the civil wedding ceremony in the Windsor town hall, all eyes, of course, were on the bride and her stylish and intensely feminine straw hat, overlaid with ivory French lace and trimmed with a fountain of feathers. For the more formal blessing ceremony in the Gothic St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, Camilla switched to a feathered, semicircular headdress.
After she and Charles emerged from the castle to greet the public, Camilla often lifted her hand to hold the feathers in place amid strong gusts.
Laura Parker Bowles, the bride's daughter, drew photographers like magnets with her hat, a mass of arrow-like feathers and ribbons in sand tones, chosen to contrast with her coat of mint green.
Serena Linley, who is married to Charles' cousin, Viscount Linley, the furniture designer, sported hot pink feathers above pinned up tresses. Society girl and royal pal Tara Palmer-Tompkinson drew admiring glances with a theatrical headdress of brown and cream plumes perched dizzily down on her brow.
Norway's Crown Princess Mette-Marit parted her blonde hair on one side, making way for a soft pile of purple feathers with one long plume shooting upward.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the wife of Charles's youngest brother, Prince Edward, chose a gray and white asymmetric creation with a high crown highlighted by dramatic black and white pheasant feathers.
Princess Beatrice, Charles' 16-year-old niece who has the copper-colored locks of her mother, the former Sarah Ferguson, looked elegant in a small headpiece combining brown and cream feathers and fabric flowers that matched her coat.
Her sister Eugenie, just turned 15, seemed a little overwhelmed inside a low-slung, white creation that hid her eyes.
Charles' sister, Princess Anne, chose her regulation pillbox, azure blue with a tiny veil for this occasion.
Anne's daughter Zara Phillips, 23, was almost unrecognizable in a dull black cloche that nearly hid her face.
Many wore big picture hats with broad bands, flowers or netting.
Others went miniature, with one guest adorned with what looked like a padded skullcap in black silk pinned at a dangerous angle on the side of her head and covered in white beads.
Hats are integral among the British blue bloods, especially at the well-known Royal Ascot. Women compete to be seen in splendid headwear at the several-day horse racing event; Ladies' Day, in particular, is known for its extravagant designer creations. The men wear top hats.