Rumors are swirling over a possible resolution to the controversy surrounding the use of real bear fur for the hats of Buckingham Palace Guardsmen. Over the past couple years, we’ve covered extensively the efforts made by celebrities and organizations like PETA to convince the Royal family that skinning bears is a cruel and unnecessary practice in today’s world. Now, it appears that they may be finally listening — and turning to some familiar British designers for alternatives.
This week, Baroness Taylor, the Minister for Defence procurement (and in charge of acquiring all military equipment), will meet with PETA to discuss synthetic materials or other replacements for the bear fur. PETA has tapped British designer Vivienne Westwood to come up with something “innovative”, while Stella McCartney and the US designer Marc Bouwer have both agreed to produce caps if commissioned by the MoD. As quoted in The Independent,
“I can’t imagine a more distinct honour than to be asked to redesign the Royal Guard’s bearskin hats with the luxurious faux fur I have used in my collections,” said Mr Bouwer, whose fur and leather-free designs have been worn by celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker.
“I would be delighted to take on this challenge and am confident the outcome would be a wonderful hat that carried on the Guards’ tradition, but in a modern way that doesn’t involve the taking of bears’ lives,” headed.
It currently takes one black bear for every hat worn by the Buckingham guard. 50-100 new hats are needed every year. Over the past five years the MoD has spent more than $600,000 on bear skins. If this meeting proves successful — and it looks like there’s a serious chance — then a major step forward in saving the black bear of North America will have been taken. Our fingers are crossed!