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Charity condemns slaughter of wild bears for King’s Guards’ caps

04 Mar 2024 4 minute read
The King’s Guards and black bears – slaughtered for the ceremonial caps

Stephen Price

A charity has condemned the royal family and MoD, after revealing how bears are baited and slaughtered by recreational hunters in Canada for the fur used in the King’s Guards’ caps.

Disturbing footage has revealed shocking evidence of hunters luring bears close with buckets of sweet or greasy food before shooting the unsuspecting animals with crossbows – a form of hunting that has been illegal in the UK since 1981 under wildlife protection laws.

Many bears are shot several times, with some escaping and dying slowly from blood loss, infection, starvation, or dehydration.

During spring hunts, nursing mothers may be killed and leave behind cubs who starve to death without them.

‘National embarrassment’

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), by using taxpayer funds to buy bearskin caps, “the UK government is creating an incentive for the ongoing slaughter of bears”.

A spokesperson from the charity said: “These caps are a national embarrassment and taint every guard’s uniform with shame.”

It takes the skin of at least one bear to make a single cap. According to public records obtained by PETA, the MoD bought 498 bearskin hats between 2017 and 2022 – equating to nearly 500 slaughtered bears.

Actor Stephen Fry, who narrates the PETA video above, said: “Britain has always prided itself on being ‘sporting’, but these bears – lured with cookies to the hunters’ hiding place – stand no chance of survival.

“Tradition is never an excuse for cruelty, which is why I’m joining the call for the Ministry of Defence to stop using the fur of slaughtered wildlife and make the switch to humane faux fur for the King’s Guards’ caps. To do otherwise would be unconscionable.”


PETA has made a virtually indistinguishable faux fur available to the MoD since 2017, which they say makes the killing of these bears even more shameful.PETA is urging the MoD to make the switch to a superior faux fur, which is ready and waiting to be rolled out.

Created together with top faux furrier ECOPEL, PETA’s spokesperson added: “The luxurious faux bearskin doesn’t harm a hair on an animal’s body and would uphold the traditional aesthetic of the caps in a way that reflects 21st century values – 96% of the UK population rejects fur and 75% believe the bearskin caps are a poor use of government funds.”

A PETA protest outside the Ministry of Defence (MoD) headquarters in central London

“This humane fabric gives a nod to tradition while sparing sensitive bears, and ECOPEL has committed to supplying an unlimited amount to the ministry for free for 10 years. The MoD must stop endorsing the barbaric slaughter of bears and switch to this superior fabric now.”


PETA recently obtained correspondence between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and a member of the public regarding the purely ornamental bearskin caps worn by the King’s Guard.

In the letter, the MoD aligns itself with Furmark – a controversial fur industry marketing scheme that PETA says “is nothing more than an attempt to humane-wash the cruelty inherently in the fur trade”.

Former British Fur Trade Association CEO Mike Moser called Furmark a “meaningless” scheme that seeks to “sugar-coat the truth behind this … cruel trade”.

In the case of the bearskins used for the guards’ caps, Furmark accreditation simply means that the fur comes from auction houses that only sell pelts from hunters who had permits, which is already a legal requirement.

PETA is urging people across Wales to take action and contact the Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps with an adaptable pre-written email here.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Well said, about time…one hat per bear, that is sick…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Memo to the King you’re the president of the WWF etc…

Who on here likes or condones killing bears !

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Do bears even need hats? (Note: I’m only joking before I get any outraged replies).

David RJ Lloyd
David RJ Lloyd
4 months ago

i hate this pomp & ceremony the royals are wrapped up in all too often. the public stampede to watch this bunch strut their stuff, regardless of what happens to get them to yet another royal salute. the whole setup is a gross waste of our public purse & all the gross privilege it all represents!! especially when it in turn requires wild animals to be slaughtered. outdated pile of tosh & should be banned

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