Duchess Kate

Thrifty Kate Middleton's rented her hats, and now you could own one (for a sum)

June 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM ET

Getty Images file /
Hats worn by the Duchess of Cambridge to special occasions back when she was just Kate Middleton are being auctioned on June 27. She wore the Aurora hat, left, to a wedding in 2010, and the Philip Somerville creation, right, to the Order of the Garter in 2008.

Two hats the Duchess of Cambridge wore back when she was plain Kate Middleton are expected to fetch thousands when they are auctioned later this month.

Thrifty Kate rented the stylish creations for £100 ($154) a time from her local milliners, a farmers’ wives cooperative called Get Ahead Hats, to wear for royal engagements.

“They are quite bulky things to store and expensive to buy, so she decided to rent them for the day like any other sensible, normal girl,” said Kerry Taylor of Kerry Taylor Auctions, which is selling the hats.

Getty Images file /
Kate Middleton is seen wearing a Philip Somerville hat as she is photographed with Prince Harry on the occasion of the Order of the Garter being presented to Prince William on June 16, 2008, at Windsor Castle.

She wore a black and white Philip Somerville piece to join the royal family at the Order of the Garter in June 2008. Watching from the sidelines with Prince Harry, she giggled as she saw her boyfriend paraded through the grounds of Windsor Castle in his Garter robes and cap.

Indigo / Getty Images file /
Accompanied by Prince William, Kate Middleton wears an Aurora picture hat to the wedding of Harry Meade, on October 23, 2010.

She wore the second hat, a creation by Aurora featuring a swirling organza crown, to the wedding of Prince William’s close friend, Harry Meade, in October 2010. The couples’ intimate demeanor sparked speculation that their own nuptials were imminent, and just a month later they announced their engagement. 

‘A really charming girl’

“Kate has been photographed ad nauseum in these hats so they are very, very well known,” said the auctioneer, adding that “they mark important points in the courtship by the prince of Kate Middleton.”

The owner of Get Ahead Hatscarefully stored the pieces and decided to sell them now, along with copies of calendar entries showing the appointments with Catherine Middleton and the rental receipts. Her sister Pippa accompanied her on the first visit and her mother Carole on the second.

“The woman who owns the shop said Kate was a delight to serve, a really charming girl, with very strong opinions on what she looked good in,” Taylor said.

See-through dress netted $120,000

The hats are estimated to sell for £1,000 to £1,500 ($1,540 to $2,309), but could fetch far more in the June 26 auction.

M Neilson / Getty Images file /
Kate Middleton is seen wearing a knitted silk tube dress during a 2002 charity fashion show at St. Andrew's University, as Prince William sat in the audience. The see-through dress, which was actually designed as a skirt by a fellow student, was later auctioned for $120,000.

Kerry Taylor Auctions also sold the see-through dress Kate wore in a fashion show at St. Andrews University in 2002. The tube of knitted net made by another student was expected to sell for around £10,000 ($15,400). But, it went for nearly eight times that amount, bringing in £78,000 ($120,063).

“So, I expect my estimates will look silly on the day but we’ll be very happy if that happens,” said Taylor, adding that she felt the hats would be a good investment for any buyer.

“I think it’s very unlikely that anything she wears now as a royal will come onto the market, which makes these hats quite rare that they were worn in the era when she was Kate Middleton,” she said.

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