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

Posted by on December 20, 2021 | Permalink

For almost two decades, PETA has campaigned to end the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) support of the slaughter of Canadian black bears, whose fur is used to make the caps worn by the Queen’s Guard. Simultaneously, we’ve invested significant financial and other resources into developing a humane faux fur that would allow the MoD to retain the aesthetic of the bearskin cap without the cruelty.

Together with the world’s top faux furrier, ECOPEL, we have created a faux bear fur that is indistinguishable from the real thing. It has passed the MoD’s copyrighted tests, conducted at its own accredited laboratory, and was found to perform just as well as real bearskin – without costing any bears their lives. The MoD told PETA that the faux fur had to meet the following criteria to replace real bearskin:

  • Length: The new faux fur is the same length as the real bear fur, at 9.5 centimetres.
  • Water Penetration: The laboratory assessed how much, if any, water penetrates through the cap to ensure the soldiers don’t get wet while wearing them. The faux-fur cap, like the bearskin cap, was found to have “[n]o wetting to the back of sample”, meaning it is 100% waterproof.
  • Water Shedding: This test assesses the fabric’s ability to shed water – it measures the wetness and general appearance of the fabric when water is poured on it. When water was poured on the real bearskin sample, the laboratory report noted that the water runs off “in 3–5 places”. Similarly, the laboratory found that water was able to pass through the strands of faux fur and ran down the fabric “from multiple locations”. The way the bear fur and the faux fur performed were remarkably similar – right down to the temporary circular indentation where the water was poured.

    The real bearskin, when wet, formed tendrils – so, too, did the faux fur sample. And when the faux fur was shaken – in a way similar to how a soldier might shake their head when wearing the cap – the report noted that the water “[d]roplets have been shaken off”.

MoD Passes Judgement – Offers No Solutions

Even though ECOPEL’s fabric meets the requirements that the MoD gave to PETA, when asked about the fabric during a recent Parliamentary Question, an MoD representative claimed that the faux fur “met one of the five requirements to be considered as a viable alternative for ceremonial caps”.

The MoD claims that the faux fur “showed unacceptable rates of water shedding”. The test, copyrighted by the MoD, debunks this. The water is shed from the faux fur in much the same way as it is from the real bearskin.

It also claimed that the faux fur “performed poorly on the visual assessment”. Even though you’d be hard-pressed in this day and age to find a British person who thinks it’s fine to steal an animal’s fur for what is essentially a piece of fashion, it’s worth reiterating that to the naked eye, the two fabrics look virtually identical.

The MoD also claims that the fabric doesn’t meet “user comfort”, even though no user has ever worn it. The MoD hasn’t even requested a sample of ECOPEL’s fabric in order to create a cap to try on a soldier’s head. How can it possibly claim that a faux-fur cap, which it has not yet created, is uncomfortable? It really does take the public for fools.

Lastly, the MoD claims that the faux fur cap falls short on “durability”. Given that the real bearskin caps have to be replaced or refurbished every few years and that ECOPEL has offered to supply the MoD with free faux fur until 2030, this one doesn’t stand up to scrutiny either.

The MoD Is Thwarting Progress

ECOPEL has offered to meet and work with the MoD’s cap-makers to develop humane versions of the caps, yet the MoD, which has never proactively sought an alternative – content simply to pass judgement on what it considers the failings of faux-fur samples – has consistently denied faux-fur experts the opportunity to do so.

This Won’t Stand

The Queen’s Guard’s caps are purely ceremonial and serve no military purpose. The idea that a viable faux fur is too elusive for ornamental headgear, when the world’s most celebrated and accomplished designers have all ditched real fur in favour of faux, is utter nonsense and insults our intelligence. Please join us in calling on the government to put an end to the excuses and the lies – and quick-march a faux fur into service.

Take Action

Join us by taking these two simple steps to help stop the slaughter of bears for the Queen’s Guard’s caps:

Take to social media.

Please tweet at the prime minister and the MoD and comment on the MoD’s Instagram  and Facebook .

Struggling with writer’s block? Try something like this:

Hey, @BorisJohnson, @PETAUK has provided the MoD with a faux bear fur that is virtually indistinguishable from real bearskin. Please stop the senseless slaughter of bears by @DefenceHQ and quick-march the new faux bear fur into service. #MoDGoFurFree

Send Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace an e-mail.

Use our action alert to send your e-mail now: