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Cocked Hats

A bicorne, or cocked hat, is a two-cornered cocked hat which was worn during the 18th and 19th centuries and was adopted from the European and American military and naval officers. Today the bicorne is mostly associated with Napoleon Bonaparte and this style of hat was worn widely by most generals and staff officers until 1914.

The bicorne descended from the tricorne. There was usually a cockade in the national colours at the front of the hat, but later on the hat became more triangular in shape and the two ends became more pointed.
During the 1790s the hat was worn side-to-side. Some were even designed so they could be folded flat. This style was known as a chapeau-bras.

During World War I the bicorne was worn as part of the full dress for officers. By the Second World War the hat had almost disappeared in this context.

In the UK, cocked hats are worn during some ceremonial occasions:

  • During the Trooping of the Colour the Major-General commanding the Household Division wears full dress uniform with a cocked hat and a swan-feather plume.
  • When the Queen is represented in Parliament by Lords Commissioners, a plain black bicorne is worn.
  • Senior officers holding certain royal appointments wear cocked hats.