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Queen's Guards: Uniforms

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 121824, tabled on 9 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to develop a suitable replacement for the real bear fur currently used to make the Queen’s Guards ceremonial caps.

Answered on

21 February 2022

There is currently no faux fur alternatives that meet the required standard for the Queen’s Guards ceremonial caps. Bears are never hunted to order for use by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Our suppliers source pelts made available by the Canadian authorities following a licensed cull as part of a programme to manage the wild bear population.Where appropriate the MOD uses faux fur alternatives for ceremonial wear, providing they meet the specific user requirements.

In order for an alternative fabric to be considered for use in the ceremonial caps, it would need successfully he performin the following five areas: water absorption, penetration, appearance, drying rate and compression. In addition to passing initial laboratory tests, any new fabric would have to gain user approval for shape and comfort for a parade length of duty. This would assess whether the fabric could maintain its shape over timeand whether it is comfortable and safe for the user. For example ensuring any waterproof backing is breathable and whether the alternative fabric is waterproof after the shaping, sewing and perforation during production . Consideration would also be given to its sustainability compared to the current natural fur fabric.

There have been four synthetic furs tested since 2015. The artificial fur tested in 2018 failed in all five areas. Tests conducted in 2019 and 2020 on another two samples showed that, while the water penetration was reduced, it still did not meet the necessary standard. It also performed poorly in the remaining areas. The most recent test results, provided by PETA, have also been analysed . The analysis concluded that the fabric only met one of the five basic requirements necessary to be considered as a viable alternative for ceremonial caps. While it met the basic standard for water penetration, it showed unacceptable rates of water shedding and performed poorly on the visual assessment. Results for the artificial fur’s drying rate and compression were not presented .