THE King’s Guards are famous for the striking, furry hats that they wear, known as bearskin hats.
We are all familiar with what they look like but many Brits are wondering whether the hats are actually made of real bear skin.
Are bearskin hats really made of bear skin?
The bearskin cap is a type of ceremonial military hat that dates back to the 17th century.
The standard bearskin hat worn by the King’s Guards is 18 inches tall and weighs 1.5 pounds.
The hats are often surrounded by controversy due to the fact that they are actually made out of bear skin.
The headwear is made from the skin of real Canadian Black Bears.
The bear skin is sourced from Canada as they have a large population of bears, of which hundreds are killed every year.
Canadian law states that under 5% of the total population of bears can legally be killed annually.
The British Army also takes 100 bear skins for its own use.
Do bearskin hats use real fur?
The bearskin hats that are worn by the King’s Guard are made of out real bear fur.
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Many people have criticised the use of real bear skin on the hats and called for the hats to be made of faux fur.
In 2005 the Ministry of Defence began a two-year trial of other materials to be used on the hats, however they could not find anything that they deemed to be an adequate replacement.
The MOD said that hats made out of fake fur have “unacceptable rates of water shedding”.
The issue continues to stir debate amongst animal rights groups, including PETA.
PETA have argued that it takes a whole bear to make just one hat.
How much do bearskin hats cost?
Official figures show that the government spent over £1million in seven years on bearskin hats for the military.
Between 2014 to 2019, the MOD bought 891 hats for the (then) Queen’s Guards.
PETA said that up to 1000 bears could have died in the process of making them.
In 2020, the MOD told PETA that they had spent £145,000 on 110 bearskin caps.
Previous purchases of bearskin hats include:
- 2019: 92 caps, costing £127,440
- 2018: 61 caps, costing £76,206
- 2017: 172 caps, costing £201,071
- 2016: 207 caps, costing £240,382
- 2015: 122 caps, costing £149,379
- 2014: 127 caps, costing £136,671