Do British soldiers still wear bearskin hats? | The Sun

BEARSKIN hats are an instantly recognisable part of British culture and were worn by soldiers for over 200 years.

So do they still wear them and why? Here's everything you need to know…

Do British soldiers still wear bearskin hats? 

Though often associated with the British Army, bearskin hats are worn by many armies around the world.

A bearskin is a ceremonial military cap that dates back to the 17th century.

They are supposed to make soldiers appear taller and more intimidating as they were the ones doing hand to hand fighting.

They were first used by British soldiers after the Battle of Waterloo for the Grenadier Guards, but soon after other foot guard regiments were able to wear them.

Today, the hats are worn by the five foot guard regiments of the British Army (Grenadier, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Coldstream), officers of fusilier regiments, the Scots Dragoon Guards and members of the Honourable Artillery Company.

The Drum Major of the Band of the Royal Highland Fusiliers also wears one on parade.

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Are the hats made of real bearskin?

As the name suggests, the hats are made of the skin of black bears from a large population in Canada.

Each year the British Army takes around 100 skins a year, and it takes one black bear to make one bearskin hat.

The caps cost around £650 to make and can last over 80 years with proper care.

It's a hugely controversial issue with calls from numerous environmental campaigners – including Baywatch star Pamela Anderson – to switch to a faux fur alternative.

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In April 2022, the animal rights group PETA created a petition which received over 100,000 signatures.

However, according to the British Army, the man-made fur caps lose their shape in strong winds and get waterlogged in heavy rains. 

In response to the petition, the government said: "Bear pelts that are used are the by-products of a licensed cull by the Canadian authorities to manage the wild bear population.

"Bears are never hunted to order for use by the MOD.

"Our suppliers source pelts made available by the Canadian authorities following a licenced cull as part of a programme to manage the wild bear population".

How do bearskin hats stay on?

Those who wear bearskin hats say they are relatively comfortable, as they don't weigh down your head and tend to keep you cool.

The standard cap the British foot guards wear weights just 1.5 pounds – and they get heavier when wet.

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Different regiments have their own unique way of wearing the hat to distinguish them from others.

For example, the Blue royals will wear it under their chin and the Lifeguards will wear it underneath the lip.

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