Stephen Fry is angry at the Royal Family for the type of fur their guards wear on their hats

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
3 Min Read

British actor and TV personality Stephen Fry has joined forces with animal welfare campaigners, decrying the use of real fur in the bearskin caps worn by the King’s Guards. The iconic hats, known as a busby, has long been a symbol of tradition and heritage during ceremonial events and outside Buckingham Palace. However, Fry says tradition should not be an excuse for cruelty, urging a switch to faux fur.

The call for change comes in the wake of a graphic online video narrated by Fry and released by PETA. The video exposes the grim reality of black bears being hunted for their fur in Ontario, Canada. In the video, hunters are seen baiting bears with food before mercilessly shooting them with crossbows. The footage sheds light on the brutal process, showcasing the bears being disembowelled and dismembered.

“Black bears like this are mercilessly killed by trophy hunters. Their fur may then be used to make the caps worn by the King’s Guard – purely ornamental headgear that serves no military purpose,” Fry states in the video, highlighting the severe ethical concerns around the use of real fur in the iconic caps.

The Royal Guards have worn the Bearskin hat since 1768.

Stephen Fry Points Out Brutality Behind The Hats

Fry’s plea extends beyond the video, where he points out the brutal reality of the hunting process. “Hunters buy tags that give them license to slaughter with crossbows,” he explains. Not all bears are killed instantly, with some left to suffer from wounds or blood loss.

Stephen Fry’s involvement has sparked a renewed conversation about the ethical impact of using real fur in ceremonial attire. Fry emphasises, “Tradition is never an excuse for cruelty”. He goes further, asserting that failure to transition to faux bearskin would be both unconscionable and un-British.

Responding to Fry’s plea, PETA advocates for using faux fur, claiming it meets all criteria outlined by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The organization argues that faux fur satisfies standards related to water absorption, water penetration appearance, drying rate, and compression. However, a spokesperson for the MoD counters this, stating, “To date and to the department’s knowledge, an alternative has yet to meet the standards required to provide an effective replacement for the bearskin ceremonial caps.”

Stephen Fry has long spoken out about animal rights.

The MoD spokesperson also addresses concerns about the sourcing of bear pelts. He asserted that bears are not hunted to order and that the pelts used are products of legal and licensed hunts. Despite this, the call for change echoes louder, with Fry and campaigners calling for a shift to more humane alternatives.

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