Jun 222016
 


Spending on British soldiers’ bearskin Busby hats has rocketed by nearly 500% since 2008 – despite thousands of troops being axed.

Seven years ago a Labour Defence Minister, Baroness Taylor, met with animal rights campaigners to review designs of the controversial headgear.

Activists hoped the Ministry of Defence would finally stop buying traditional caps made from real fur.

But the Government has admitted that not only is it still using real fur – but spending on the caps has soared.

There are fresh calls for the Army to abandon the real fur headgear – Photo REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Just 35 of the caps, worn by Guardsmen on ceremonial and state occasions , were bought in 2008, costing £31,000.

The bearskin hats are regular features of State occasions – Photo Stephen Lock / i-Images

But the bill ballooned to £149,379 last year, with taxpayers forking out for 122 of the caps. They cost an average of £1,224 each.

The revelation triggered fresh calls for the hats to be phased out.

Shadow Environment Minister Alex Cunningham , who uncovered the figures, said: “The British public will be horrified that Canadian black bears are being slaughtered, often indiscriminately, to provide fur headgear for British soldiers.

“The Government have admitted spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on fur headgear over the last few years but despite escalating costs, and evident animal welfare issues, have no plans to research alternatives.

“With leaders in the British fashion industry prepared to develop alternatives, it’s time to think again.”

Parliamentary questions revealed 925 of the caps have been bought over the last decade .

The total cost was more than £880,000 – an average of £951.53 per cap.

The Queen’s Guardsmen wear the hats when they are on ceremonial duty – Photo PA

In 2009, 195 hats were bought, costing £148,891 at an average of £763.54.

A year later, the Tories swept to power and announced sweeping defence cuts, slashing the Army by 20,000 soldiers.

But despite the swinging the axe, the Government continued to splash out on new hats – and has bought 695 since 2010.

PETA UK director Mimi Bekhechi said: “Fur farming has been banned in the UK for more than a decade and PETA has shown how shooting bears in the Canadian forest, often orphaning their cubs, is even more cruel than farming, so it’s an outrage for the Ministry of Defence to source real fur for ceremonial attire.

Black bears look better in the wild than on soldiers’ heads, say campaigners – Photo Getty

“For each of The Queen’s Guards’ caps , a bear is cruelly killed either by being shot or ensnared, possibly for days, in a painful trap.

“British taxpayers – a good 95% of whom object to killing animals for fur – are unwittingly paying for it.

“With the resources, science and technology at the MoD’s disposal, it’s inexcusable that the same Army which is capable of building some of the most sophisticated equipment and machinery in the world claims that it’s unable to find a cruelty-free replacement.”

The MoD also revealed that 55 coney skin – rabbit fur – Busby hats were bought between 2005 and 2015, costing more than £25,000.

Six fox fur caps were purchased at a price of £5,499.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne said in a written answer: “The Ministry of Defence does not buy bear pelts; it buys ceremonial caps direct from suppliers who source pelts from animals culled as part of a programme to manage the wild population licensed by the Canadian government.

“Animal welfare standards relating to the bear cull are a matter for the Canadian government.

“The MoD also purchases coney skin (rabbit fur) for the Royal Engineers’ and Royal Signals’ Busby and fox fur for the Royal Horse Artillery, Kings Troop Officers’ Busby.

A total of 55 coney skins – rabbit fur – were used in headgear – Photo Getty

“The current contract requires a commitment to sustainable procurement.

“Depending on usage and maintenance, bearskin Busbys can last for up to 50 years.

“The coney skin and fox fur Busbys have indefinite life spans if properly maintained.”

This article was first published by The Mirror on 14 Jan 2016.


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Doreen McClusky

Dave Neraasen there's no shortage of humans either, when are you going to start shooting them?

Paul Hull

I would think that killing the bear before removing the hide would be much more humane than the alternative.

Dave Neraasen

there's no shortage of black bears in canada, i can assure you of that

Kristine Law

The Queen should set an example for all humanity and stop this barbaric practice. And she should stop fox hunting and anything else that exploits, endangers, and kills animals.

Melanie Duncan

Absolutely not! These beautiful animals should be cherished and protected. As Britain is supposed to be a caring compassionate nation about animals, it is high time we adhered to that belief and led by example! PLEASE!

Lara Clahane

These 'traditional' Victorian uniforms make our soldiers look like pantomime characters, not a modern, efficient fighting force. It's a rediculous hangover from the Empire. Get rid of this evil wasteful practice. I you want to spend £800 – £1000 on a hat, get Grayson Perry to design a new one!

Bob Heisler

They look like clowns in those ridiculous red coats and crazy bear hats.

Ally Maxwell

Fur shouldn't be used for anything.
Faux fur can be used .

Nora Williams

I agree Colleen . (Voted )

Colleen Micelli Grail

Use synthetic fur! SHAMEFUL

Terri Julians

Disgusting and barbaric. Just another creature which means nothing to Royalty, as far as they're concerned, all animals are there for theor benefit. Phase them out too!

Marlene Drury Niessen

The Queen is such an animal lover, why doesn't she put a stop to it??

Christina Marie Anderson

Their is no need to do this. The great thing about being in power as the Queen, is being able to change traditions. We can manmake beautiful hats, uniforms and such with out killing our wildlife.

Marian Glover Leeper

Terrible ! 🙁

Bex Bobster

Disgusting! The royal family should be ashamed

Akin Erbay

Those guards caps should be made of royal pubic hairs !

John Manion

Simply barbaric. I can't believe that the human animal populous is still doing this bullshit!

Lyn Michailevs

Leave the black bears alone!!! They don't want your skin, so let them have theirs! Stop the cruelty to these magnificent animals! keep the tradition by using only snthetic fur!

Polina  Parfenova

No,no and no again,it's absolutely crime,cruelty and evil and doesn't deserve the name 'tradition'

Mars Caulton

It's called a living mammal killed so a guy can wear a part of it on his head. Pretty sure being a unique part of the ecosystem is more important than decorating some dude's head at work. For a ton of cash.

Debra L. Taylor

If fur farming in UK is banned, then it shows you already know better!!
Faux fur is best!

Anita Pinelli Phillips

This barbaric and cruel practice must stop! It costs a lot of money but most of all….it's cost many bears their lives, including cubs! Wrong, so wrong!

Carrington Bolwell-Smythe

Should any animals be killed for unnecessary food and fashion choices? Of course not. Save petition time. Have one. Animals Enjoy Being Alive As Much As We Do. They Are Not Ours To Use, Torture, Kill or Hunt. SIGN HERE.

Yves Steelandt

No! Of course not!

Tracey Paul

It's 2016, for God sake stop with the sensless killing of animals!!!

Linda Connell

Why is this even a discussion? 98% against, and no one arguing for in the comments. And 95% of Brits against. It doesn't matter that the bears are intentionally culled in Canada. The British are sending the wrong message, and Canada should stop selling the pelts to them.

Ros Giliam

Same old Same old – put the blame on someone else ! Shame on you Shame on you !!!!! How they can see anything is beyond me ! Even blind people would not do this !

Debbie Fong

There are compassionate fabric alternatives if we care to look. There is no excuse to kill any being for clothing, fashion, … Might does not make right. Choose compassion over cruelty. Any culture involving cruelty is not a culture worth keeping. Stop killing animals NOW.

Diana Skakavac

who cares what its called? its made of fur

Sandra Simpson

Silly is what I call it!!!! Also call it out of date, ugly and a total selfish waste of beautiful animals!!!

Janice Lorraine

Absolutely shameful! What is the matter with so many people killing these beautiful animals. There is fake fur that looks so real these days.

Sue Blackman

I've just accidently voted for and it should of been against, can I change it? [email protected]

Marcia Brieman Henderson

Absolutely not!! There are enough synthetic materials available.. This would not detract from the Royals. ,in fact, they would be far more appealing if they had compassion for animals, not ego.

Aric Slagenweit

This is 2016, there is no need for traditions that practice cruelty. Make a new tradition of compassion. Kindness is powerful, try it.

Gabriele G Brown III

no animal schould be killed so we can wear it, that is not why thje here for. it is a disgrace what the do to these animals. stop killing them for your use

Sandra Simpson

Irt is sooooo shameful to think that Great Briain still uses real fur in those stupid hats. Do the British people know this?? Why not just change the hats altogether to something that does not look so ridiculous!!!!????! At least, use fake fur, if they insist on the sily hats!!!

Juls Newell

It's called a busbee. Not a fur hat or cap or whatever you calling it.

Ilene R. Carr

It is absolutely shameful that you even think about using black bears or any other animal for your hats when so many non-animal material is available!!

Lindy Vejar

Hell no

Penny George

This world is messed up!!!
seems like not too many people really care about our awesome animals!!

Lolly Easter

What kind of arsehole would vote "yes"?

Susan Frudd

Shameful and I am sure a few taxpayers would say like me 'not in my name' it's a disgrace killing animals, tradition is no excuse either, tradition has to change and change this must, might save money too so the government could reduce the third bedroom tax charge…criminal….

Leigh Lofgren

I had no idea and what on earth is going on? How utterly appalling and such a waste of life and money. STOP killing animals and use fake fur you idiots

Steve Gent

They aren’t. The troopers busboys are actually fake. Only the officers are made of the real thing.

Tara Wikramanayake

With the option of synthetic fur available, why do they persisi in this barbaric behaviour in Britain? I thought they were a nation of animal lovers.

Gwen Ware

Of coursde not..there is perfectly g dd non an imal alternative

Eugene Rae

I'm sure if this bit of British barbarism was highlighted on a few billboards around London public opinion would quickly force a rethink.

Michele Jankelow

I actually believe the Queen would be appalled! It something that was found acceptable decades ago, but no longer. Truly abhorrent!

Hilary Morrison

No of course not.

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