Bearskin hats are an iconic characteristic of royal occasions, together with the Altering of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

The King – a eager environmentalist – is seen carrying bearskin alongside different members of the Royal Household at parades equivalent to Trooping the Color.

The well-known actor and broadcaster Mr Stephen Fry mentioned: ‘Custom is rarely an excuse for cruelty, which is why I’m becoming a member of the decision for the Ministry of Defence to cease utilizing the fur of slaughtered wildlife and make the swap to humane fake fur for the King’s Guard’s caps.’

The 66-year-old has narrated a video for animal rights group PETA that makes use of footage of bears being killed by hunters in Canada.

The group claims to movie hunters utilizing bagels, biscuits and oil to bait bears earlier than taking pictures them with crossbows.

‘Black bears are mercilessly killed by trophy hunters,’ he mentioned. ‘They could then be used to make the caps utilized by the King’s Guard – purely decorative headgear that serves no army function.

‘Bears who’re shot don’t all the time die outright. They could flee and endure a gradual and painful demise from an infection or blood loss – solely to be discovered hours later after the hunters comply with a blood path.’

It takes no less than one bear to supply sufficient fur for every cap, says Mr Fry – who added final Might’s Coronation.

He claims demand for fur from the King’s Guard was ‘incentivising’ hunters.

Mr Fry says pretend fur was obtainable that was as efficient as bear fur.

The Ministry of Defence mentioned: ‘Bears usually are not hunted to order for the Ministry of Defence and bear pelts used are a product of authorized and licensed hunts.

‘Up to now and to the Division’s data, another has but to fulfill the requirements required to supply an efficient alternative for the bearskin ceremonial caps.’

Using actual bearskin by the Military has lengthy been a matter of controversy.

In 2022, Boris Johnson backed its continued use, telling constituents that ‘man-made fur didn’t meet the requirements required’ earlier than insisting ‘all these issues are stored below evaluate’.

Vacationers visiting London flock to see the Guards of their conventional hats, which have been worn because the 1815 defeat of Napoleon.

The ceremonial headdress can solely be worn by foot troopers in sure regiments, together with the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards.

The British Military bearskin: A Napoleonic prize with 200 years of historical past

Bearskins, as much as 18in tall and weighing round two kilos, are worn by the Grenadier, Welsh, Irish, Scots and Coldstream Guards.

They’re synonymous with the pomp and splendour of occasions such because the altering of the guard at Buckingham Palace and the Trooping the Color ceremony.

Produced from the pelts of Canadian black bear, the fabric is heat and water-resistant, retaining its distinctive form regardless of the climate.

Military high brass have been joyful to undertake trendy synthetics in different instances.

Pretend leopardskin is now worn by drummers in marching bands, whereas the smaller busby hats worn by the King’s Troop are now not constituted of beaver fur.

Bearskins have been adopted within the 18th century as a result of the brimmed hats worn by grenadiers obstructed their view once they have been hurling grenades.

In 1768, it was ordered that grenadiers within the Foot Guards put on caps of black bearskin, with the motto Nec Aspera Terrent (Not even difficulties deter us) on a silver King’s Crest on the entrance.

On the battle of Waterloo in 1815, the First Regiment of Foot Guards defeated the grenadiers of Napoleon’s Guard. They have been rewarded with the title of Grenadier Regiment, with each soldier allowed to put on a bearskin.

The Military takes 100 skins every year, considered a small fraction of the hundreds of bears which might be killed to maintain numbers below management.


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This text by Rory Tingle was first revealed by The Day by day Mail on 10 January 2024. Lead Picture: The Ministry of Defence mentioned: ‘Bears usually are not hunted to order for the Ministry of Defence and bear pelts used are a product of authorized and licensed hunts’.

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