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This article was published 19/5/2018 (1298 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The fascinator and other fancy hats were the unofficial theme of the luncheon held Saturday to celebrate the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Fascinators are tiny hats that fasten to the side of a women's head, looking slightly atilt, and fascinate in their decoration, or at least that's the idea behind the name.
"I think it's a British tradition," said Wendy Hart, vice-president of the Manitoba branch of the United Empire Loyalists.
"It's to be worn to any wedding," chimed in Darcie von Axelstierna, the chair of the Manitoba branch of the Monarchists League of Canada despite having no British blood whatsoever.
"They're more decorative than a hat," explained von Axelstierna. "They're supposed to be a work of art."
Out of a crowd of about 50 gathered to celebrate the wedding on the fourth floor of Wesley Hall on the University of Winnipeg campus, more than 40 were women. Only one or two didn't don extravagant millinery, about half of which were fascinators.
There were fascinators representing flowers, feathers, and one had pearls at the end of wires that boinged like insect antennae whenever the wearer moved, which tended to draw the eye.
The idea was for women to wear the tiny fascinators at weddings in church so the person in the pew behind could still see proceedings. A bigger hat would block the view. At the royal wedding, every woman was wearing a hat, if not a fascinator.
This wasn't a church, of course, but in a day all about tradition, the fascinators were on display in a dazzling fashion.
Among those attending was Jean Morrison, 96, who it so happens owns a collection of 65 stylish hats.
"They're very easy to pack," she said, as they just fit inside each other.
She chose not to wear one of her fascinators but rather a translucent purple hat with a wide flat brim.
She told a story of helping with a tea at her seniors residence and suggested everyone wear hats. People groused at the idea but she went ahead anyway and put a hat from her collection on each of the 32 chairs for the event and everyone put theirs on and got a little silly and had fun, she said.
"You don't have to be crazy in this world but it helps," she said.
"There's been a lot of talk about the relevancy of the monarchy but it produces a non-political, stable identity for a nation. The Queen can come here and be neither Liberal or Conservative or NDP. She just represents a symbol of continuity."
Hart believes the new generation of royals in princes William and Harry and their wives has rekindled the enthusiasm for the monarchy.
She called it "a fairy-tale wedding" with Prince Harry marrying someone of North American background.
The fact that the bride is a Hollywood actress and that many celebrities were at the wedding, such as Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, and 20 people from Markle's TV series, Suits, added to the lustre, she said.
After the luncheon, everyone was invited to watch the wedding on tape, although many had already seen it. When the crowd was asked how many got up at 4 a.m. to watch the event live, about 10 people raised their hands.
Guests included Pearl McGonigal, Manitoba's lieutenant-governor from 1981 to 1986, and Dwight MacAulay, who recently retired as the chief of protocol for the Manitoba government.
MacAulay was the guest speaker. He co-ordinated numerous royal visits and has met the Queen on several occasions. He is a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, with the medal presented to him personally by the Queen.
Queen Elizabeth, he said in a short address, is stunningly beautiful when seen in person.
"She has the most perfect skin of anyone I've seen in my life," he said.
He best summed up the day's event.
"I think any time you get two young people in love and they marry, it's a beautiful day."