Fake fur for bearskin caps has been offered to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for free for nearly a decade in a bid to force the military to switch from using real fur.
PETA, the animal rights group, has teamed up with a faux furrier to produce a fake bearskin cap for the Queen’s Guards.
The move comes after guardsmen splashed out tens of thousands of pounds on new real bearskin hats in March ahead of ministers launching a consultation on prohibiting the sale of fur in post-Brexit Britain.
The ceremonial headdress can only be worn by foot soldiers in the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards and the Welsh Guards.
After teaming up with a company called Ecopel, PETA has unveiled the world’s first faux bear fur which it claims is “indistinguishable” from the real bear pelts which are used for caps and cost roughly £650 each.
According to PETA, the faux bear fur not only matches the exact length of real fur but was confirmed to be “100 per cent waterproof” by an MoD copyrighted test, conducted at the ministry’s accredited laboratory.
Ecopel has offered to provide the MoD with faux bear fur free of charge until 2030.
‘Twenty-first century cap reflects fur-free values of Her Majesty’
Ingrid Newkirk, the PETA founder, said: “The humane, high-performing faux fur created by Ecopel gives a nod to tradition while preventing sensitive bears from being viciously slaughtered for their fur.
“PETA looks forward to seeing this 21st century cap – which reflects the fur-free values of Her Majesty and animal-loving Britons – quick-marched into service.”
Guardsmen’s hats have long been a target for animal rights campaigners, and in May George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, launched a consultation on banning the sale of fur in the UK.
It followed pressure from Tory figures including Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s then fiancee, and Lord Goldsmith, the environment minister.
Normally, between 50 and 100 of the 18-inch hats, used by the military since the 1815 defeat of Napoleon, are bought by the Army each year.
However, according to a Freedom of Information request, the MoD spent £145,000 on 110 new bearskins last year, complaining that trials of fake fur in 2014 had led to guardsmen’s headgear becoming “waterlogged”.