Royal Rumble Over Footguards’ Hats

For Immediate Release:
20 March 2003

Dawn Carr 020 7357 9229, ext. 224; 0776 857 1678 (mobile)

Santa Fe, New Mexico – Her Grace, the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who now lives in Santa Fe, has dispatched a personal letter to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, asking Her Majesty to call for a faux-fur replacement for the world-famous bearskin hats worn by the Queen’s Household Division.

The Duchess, whose late husband was John Robert Russell, the 13th Duke of Bedford, has a great fondness for bears and was eager to speak out in their behalf. Bears frequent the Duchess’ ranch in Santa Fe, her retirement home. In her letter to the Queen, the Duchess included a snapshot of her husband taken shortly before his death last October, standing under the apple trees, smiling and holding a branch the bears had broken in their quest for something sweet to eat.

The Duchess’ letter to the Queen comes just after Miss Great Britain, Yana Booth, posed naked cuddling a teddy bear in a PETA advert for the campaign.

‘It has been brought to my attention that real bears’ skin is still used for your Guards’ hats’, writes the Duchess in her letter to the Queen. ‘What about using fake fur?’

It takes the entire hide of one bear to make just one Guardsman’s headpiece. In North America, the bears are often shot several times before they die. Some bears escape after being shot and face a slow death in the woods as their lifeblood drains out of them. When the bears killed are mothers, orphaned cubs who cannot survive are left behind.

The Duke of Bedford inherited the 6,000-acre countryside estate, Woburn Abbey. In 1974, the Duchess wrote the frank and fascinating ‘Nicole Nobody—the Autobiography of the Duchess of Bedford’.


The Duchess of Bedford’s letter to the Queen is available upon request.

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