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Updated 04/24/2013



The Balmoral is a traditional Scottish bonnet or cap that can be worn with Scottish Highland Dress. It is named after Balmoral Castle, a Royal residence in Scotland.

Dating back to at least the 16th century, it takes the form of a soft, knitted wool cap, originally with a voluminous, flat crown, traditionally blue in color, sometimes with a diced band (usually red-and-white check) around the lower edge and with a colored toorie (pompom) set in the middle of the crown.

Today the crown of the bonnet is smaller, made of finer cloth and tends to be blue or Lovat green. Tapes in the band originally used to secure the bonnet tightly are sometimes worn hanging from the back of the cap. A black bow (originally a field sign symbolizing the wearer's loyalty to the House of Hanover) or a regimental or clan badge is worn on the left hand side with the bonnet usually worn tilted to the right to display these emblems.

As worn by Scottish Highland regiments the blue bonnet gradually developed into a stiffened felt cylinder, often decorated with ostrich plumes sweeping over the crown from left to right (as well as flashes of bearskin or painted turkey hackles). In the 19th century this tall cap evolved into the extravagant full dress 'feather bonnet' while, as an undress cap, the plainer form continued in use until the mid-19th century. By then known as the 'Kilmarnock' bonnet, it was officially replaced by the Glengarry bonnet, which had been in use unofficially since the late eighteenth century and was essentially a folding version of the cylindrical military cap.

The name 'Balmoral' as applied to this traditional headress appears to date from the late 19th century and in 1903 a blue bonnet in traditional style but with a stiffened crown was adopted briefly by some Lowland regiments as full dress headgear. After the Second World War, while all other Scottish regiments chose the Glengarry, a soft blue Balmoral was adopted as full dress headgear by the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) and was worn with the green No.1 Dress jacket and with khaki No.2 or 'Service' Dress. As part of the amalgamation of the Scottish Regiments in 2006, the military Balmoral was done away with and all battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland now wear the Glengarry.