Queen Elizabeth II’s choice of headwear at the opening of British Parliament has ignited speculation she may have been making a silent – and cheeky – Brexit protest.
The 91-year-old monarch set tongues wagging on Wednesday (UK time) when she chose to forego the traditional crown while delivering her speech at the opening of Parliament in London outlining the UK government’s legislative program at the ceremonial event.
It was the first time in 43 years the British monarch has delivered the annual Queen’s speech without her robes or the Imperial State Crown, instead opting for an all-blue outfit and a hat that drew immediate comparisons to the European Union flag.
Bright blue and peppered with several yellow daisies – much like the yellow stars featured on the flag – the hat led many to wonder if the Queen was making a statement about the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
Then Queen’s speech, typically written by the British Prime Minister, outlined a two-year plan for exiting the European Union, after Britons voted to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum.
Many interpreted her choice of headwear as an anti-Brexit statement.
Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, tweeted a photo of the hat with the words: “Clearly the EU still inspires some in the UK.”
Irish journalist Sinead Ryan pointed out it was unlikely the hat’s resemblance to the flag was accidental.
“All her clothes are carefully considered with optics and message in mind. Absolutely not coincidental,” she tweeted.
— Liz Sewell (@BelinaLiz) June 21, 2017
🇬🇧 Queen's hat 🇪🇺
Message received. pic.twitter.com/oJfBUYpYSV
— Maciej Sokołowski (@sokoIowski) June 21, 2017
Despite campaigning with the slogan “Brexit means Brexit”, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday signalled a softening of her original plan for a “hard exit” from the EU.
“First, we need to get Brexit right,” she said.
“That means getting a deal which delivers the result of last year’s referendum and does so in a way that commands maximum public support.”
Buckingham Palace attributed the Queen’s more casual attire to a lack of preparation ahead of the typically extravagant event, given it came so soon after the Queen’s birthday and the snap election called by Theresa May on June 8.
The Queen attended the state opening despite her husband, Prince Philip, 96, being hospitalised with an infection.
The Queen managed to slip out to the races at Ascot just two hours after her turn at Parliament, dressed in a canary-yellow combination and accompanied by Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.