UnBEARable Cruelty – The King’s Guard’s Caps Are Still Made Using the Fur of Slaughtered Bears

For each of the caps worn by the King’s Guard, a bear is cruelly killed by being shot or ensnared, sometimes for days, in a painful trap – and British people, a good 95% of whom object to killing animals for fur, are unwittingly paying for it through their taxes.

For nearly two centuries, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has waged war on black bears while doing almost nothing to further the search for materials to replace the use of their skins.

Now, PETA and luxury faux furrier ECOPEL have revealed the world’s first faux bear fur that is virtually indistinguishable from the real bearskins used to make the King’s Guard’s caps.

The MoD said it has five requirements for a faux-bearskin cap, and the ministry’s copyrighted tests and a fabric technologist with 25 years of experience confirm that ECOPEL’s faux bear fur meets them all. There’s no reason why the cruelly obtained fur used for the caps can’t be replaced with this viable option that’s fit for the 21st century.

Humane, Eco-Friendly Caps

The high-performing faux bear fur would retain the aesthetic of the iconic cap, giving a nod to tradition while preventing sensitive bears from being viciously slaughtered for their fur. It is also more eco-friendly. Real fur must be treated with toxic chemicals to prevent it from decomposing – in this case, on the guards’ heads. ECOPEL’s faux fur is produced in closed-loop factories, which means all water and chemicals used in the production of the faux fur are recycled.

Latest Campaign Updates

January 2024:

PETA US Investigation: Bears Baited, Shot With Crossbows for Fur

December 2023:

Ministry of Defence Misleading Public With Furmark Certification

October 2023:

498 Symbolic ‘Bears’ Demand Fur-Free King’s Guard Caps

September 2023:

PETA Calls For Change for Animals During the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference

August 2023:

Scottish MPs Stand Against Bear Fur for the Scots Guards’ Caps

June 2023:

Hiding the Bloody Reality! See the PETA Ad That Was Rejected in Windsor

Would Fainting Guards Be Safer With PETA’s Faux Bear Fur Cap?

PETA Urges King Charles to Wear Faux Fur at His Birthday Parade

May 2023:

Leaked Video Captures ‘King Charles’ Criticising Palace Guards’ Fur Caps

April 2023:

Royal Guardsman Speaks Out Against Bear Fur Caps

July 2022:

Bears Got Their Day in Parliament as House of Commons Debates the Use of Bearskin for Queen’s Guard’s Caps

June 2022:
Platinum Jubilee: God Save the Queen (and the Bears), Says PETA
Over 100,000 people have joined PETA and Alesha Dixon in urging MoD to replace bearskins with faux fur to create caps for the Queen’s Guard!

May 2022:
Bears Are Dying, So PETA Holds a ‘Die-In’
Wildlife Photographers to MoD: The Only Way Bears Should Be Shot Is Through a Lens
‘Love Island’ Star Faye Winter Supports PETA’s Faux Bear Fur in New Campaign
No More Excuses: Faux Fur Is Proven to Outperform Bearskin
75% of Brits Consider Bearskin Caps a ‘Bad Use of Government Funds’

April 2022:
PETA’s Parliamentary Reception: MPs Unite in Calling On the MoD to Embrace Faux-Bearskin Cap
PETA Is Untangling the Web of Lies Spun by the MoD
Go Fake for the Bears’ Sake: Simon Pegg Stars in New PETA Campaign

March 2022:
PETA Calls Out Defence Secretary’s ‘Bear-Faced Lies’ With Massive Westminster Bridge Banner
New Action Alert: Urge Your MP to Support a Switch to Faux Fur for the Queen’s Guard’s Caps!

February 2022:
Did You Sign the Bearskins Petition? Here’s What PETA Has to Say About the Government Response
Rafferty Law: Bearskin Caps are ‘Sickening’ and ‘Devastating’
Ecopel Demands Retraction of MoD Lies

January 2022:
New Petition: Replace the real bearskins used for the Queen’s Guard’s caps with faux fur (sign now!)
Alesha Dixon and PETA Launch Petition to Help Save Bears
PETA Puts a New Twist on BYOB – Bring Your Own Bear
Your Taxes Are Paying for Bear Slaughter – Here’s How

December 2021:
The MoD is Taking the British Public for Fools by Claiming Nothing Short of Real Bearskins Will Do for the Queen’s Guard’s Caps
What Did PETA Give Boris and Carrie Johnson’s Baby?
Today in Windsor: PETA’s ‘Bear’ Urges MoD to Go Fur-Free

November 2021:
Pamela Anderson Wants the Queen’s Guard’s Caps to Be Faux Fur
Will Boris Johnson Stop the Slaughter of Canadian bears?
PETA Unveils Much-Anticipated Faux-Fur Queen’s Guard Cap

About the Bears

Canadian black bears are cruelly killed for their pelts by being shot or ensnared, sometimes for days, in painful traps. During hunts, as many as one bear in seven doesn’t die immediately after being shot. Some escape wounded and die slowly from blood loss or starvation. In some provinces of Canada, a spring hunt of bears is permitted, and mother bears seeking food for their cubs are often killed, leading to the demise of entire families.

Instead of financially supporting the shameful slaughter of bears, the UK should set a compassionate example by switching to ECOPEL’s humane and progressive alternative and committing to stopping the killing.

ECOPEL has offered to provide the MoD with unlimited free faux bear fur until 2030.

Celebrity Support

Celebrities, politicians, and influencers have joined PETA in speaking out for bears, including by signing our petition to the MoD. Over the years, figures as varied as Simon Pegg, Alesha Dixon, Morrissey, Tony Benn, the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, Stella McCartney, Jilly Cooper, Amanda Holden, Brian Sewell, Hayley Mills, Jerome Flynn, Pamela Anderson, Mary McCartney, Brett Anderson, Sadie Frost, Brooke Johnston, Siouxsie Sioux, Fernanda Tavares, Jeff Beck, Twiggy, Imogen Bailey, Julian Clary, Bea Arthur, Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Roger Moore, Ricky Gervais, Glenda Jackson, Michael Sheen, Kate Ford, Sadiq Khan, and former MPs Ian Cawsey and Norman Baker have all asked the MoD, the late Queen Elizabeth II, or His Majesty the King to replace the bearskins used for the Guard’s caps with a cruelty-free, modern material.

  • “The issue I am writing to you about today is not a laughing matter. . . . Won’t you please take the necessary steps to replace the bearskins used for the Guards’ caps with a synthetic material? I understand and appreciate the importance of uniforms, but continuing to use real fur in the 21st century is inexcusable, regardless of ‘tradition’.” – Ricky Gervais

  • “When [PETA] told me that black bears in my native Canada are still being killed to make the ceremonials hats worn by Your Majesty’s Household Guards, I was horrified.” – Pamela Anderson

  • “As an animal lover, I am saddened to know that bears are still being gunned down for the [King’s] Guard’s caps. Some traditions aren’t worth saving, and the Ministry of Defence can easily make the switch to cruelty-free faux fur, which is the kind thing to do and what the British public demands.”

    – Dame Vera Lynn

How the Campaign Started

In 2003, PETA Europe first asked the MoD to stop using bear pelts to make headpieces for the five Foot Guards regiments. The campaign has engaged celebrities, politicians, the public, and even former guards themselves. It has also involved fashion experts and innovators. For more than 15 years, PETA has worked with faux fur manufacturers to refine an exact replica material for the iconic bearskin caps as a humane alternative to the indefensible killing of black bears in Canada.

PETA Europe took the campaign to Parliament. Early Day Motion 1756 of 2005, signed by 207 MPs, stated that “this House recognises that the bearskin hats worn by the five guards regiments have no military significance and involve unnecessary cruelty; and invites the Government to end their use and substitute hats made from fake fur.” Among the supporters were Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Sadiq Khan, Ann Widdecombe, Vince Cable, and Glenda Jackson.

A 2006 YouGov poll commissioned by PETA Europe found that nearly 80% of respondents were opposed to the use of taxpayers’ money to support the killing of Canadian black bears and fashion their skins into ceremonial caps. In the last seven years alone, the MoD has squandered more than £1 million of taxpayers’ money on doing this.

PETA UK supporters have also been involved in eye-catching demonstrations to keep the issue in the public eye, including staging a “die-in” to tell the naked truth about cruelty to bears and orchestrating a “21-bum salute” to the MoD in London.

PETA entities have been dedicated to encouraging King Charles, who speaks out about certain environmental issues, to take a stand against fur. PETA’s “bear” tailed the then–Prince of Wales at public engagements as an ambearsador for his Canadian cousins who are killed so that their skins can be made into caps.

PETA members wearing the costume also followed him to the US and Canada, where they attended public engagements in Washington and San Francisco with a sign reading, “God Save the Bears.” At Hanover Square in New York, Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall, accepted a “Bearskins Are for Bears, Not Guards” leaflet from the PETA “bear”. Back in the UK, during a royal visit to the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, His Royal Highness spoke with the “bear”, saying, “I recognise you! I’ve seen you in America!” And just a couple of days later in Bristol, he once again was approached and remarked, “My, you are being very persistent!”

In 2012, PETA’s biggest demonstration yet took place as hundreds of people marched through central London – some dressed as bears and others carrying teddy bears – to speak up for the beautiful bears cruelly killed for the caps and to send a clear message to the MoD that it’s time to relegate the use of bearskin to the history books. Beginning at Westminster Bridge and finishing at Marble Arch, participants covered 3 miles, with beloved twitcher Bill Oddie and actor Peter Egan at the head of the march.

What Can You Do?

PETA is calling on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to stop using real bear fur for the ornamental headpieces worn by the King’s Guard and to have the ceremonial caps fashioned from luxurious faux fur instead. Join us: