Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Straw Boaters at Henley Regatta

It's Henley Royal Regatta week again. Straw hats, Hampstead-collared shirts, striped cotton blazers and rowing repp ties galore. See you gents at the Leander Club. Don't forget to bring your Pimm's!

Straw BoatersEarlier this month we reported on the Royal Ascot races, one of the highlights of the English social season. This week ushers in another classic British sporting event, the Henley Royal Regatta. The five-day Regatta, held on the River Thames by the town of Henley-on-Thames, takes place over the first weekend of every July.

3301708International crews compete in various races at the Regatta, which has been held every year since 1839 except during the two World Wars, the main event being the Grand Challenge Cup for Men's Eights. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, became the Regatta's first Royal Patron in 1851, a tradition carried on by the reigning monarch ever since, though unlike Royal Ascot they don't always deign to attend.

penn01Even more so than at Ascot, Henley provides an opportunity for aristocrats from the sporting and social sets to dress in that distinctively British style which has inspired so many fashion designers over the decades. The commercialization of Henley, unlike Ascot, Wimbledon and cricket at Lord's, has been slower to take hold, and as Godfrey Smith writes in The English Season, it is something of "an Edwardian time warp."


Then and Now

hr-ed-rowchurch_684235nAt Henley, members of rowing and boating clubs sport distinctive blazers, straw hats and repp ties - sometimes all three - in often eye-popping club colors. Like the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, Henley has its own inner sanctum where the bon ton congregate, and as at other English social occasions class distinctions involve fastidiousness of dress. The Stewards' Enclosure, adjacent to the last part of the mile-long course and the finish line, is the most coveted locale.

Stewards' Enclosure

Prizegiving takes place here at the Regatta's conclusion, and there is a strict dress code: suits, blazer and flannels or evening dress, and of course neckties, are required for gentlemen while women must wear dresses or skirts that cover the knees. The waiting list for the Stewards' Enclosure, tactfully referred to as "a haven from the general bustle of the Regatta," is several years long. Many gallons of Pimm's and champagne are consumed there.

The Leander Club

Another such stylish oasis is the Leander Club founded in 1818, situated just down from the Stewards' Enclosure. The largest, most historic and prestigious rowing club in the world, its members wear bright pink in sometimes surprising combinations.

efjonnyStraw Boater tip to The Classicist for the above article.


Beaverbrook said...

Wonderful post. The Royal Canadian Henley Regatta is Aug 4 -10 this year. Just another example of the British cultural links between England and Canada.

Wellington said...

And don't forget about the Henley-on-Todd Regatta in Australia. Pan-Britannia indeed.

David Byers said...

When ever I see things about the Regatta I am reminded of how the Great War was brewing in Europe in the summer of 1914 and the young boys at the Regatta that year who would latter go and fight.

Also I love the hats. Hats are cool!

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Hats are cool!

They indeed are, sir. Indeed!

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

I prefer a good colonial Stetson cowboy hat!