A campaign has been launched to stop using real bearskin in the King’s Guards’ caps

Stephen Fry is a national treasure. He’s not just an actor, broadcaster, comedian, writer, director and narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks – he’s also an animal welfare activist. And that’s shown by Fry’s latest campaign, which sees him join animal rights charity PETA in calling for an end to the use of bearskin for the caps of the King’s Guard.

The tall, column-shaped hats are an unmistakable sight outside Buckingham Palace and they’re traditionally made out of bearskin. The government insists those skins are always the result of ‘legal and licensed hunts’, but PETA says that isn’t enough. 

In a PETA campaign video, which is narrated by Fry, the organisation tells us that bears might not be killed at once, and could die later from infected wounds or loss of blood. ‘Tradition has never been an excuse for cruelty,’ says Fry in the video. It takes at least one bear to supply enough fur for a single cap. 

PETA are instead campaigning for the use of faux fur, though the Ministry of Defence has said ‘an alternative has yet to meet the standards required to provide an effective replacement for the bearskin ceremonial caps.’ 

The animal rights group plans to show the footage to King Charles III, who has worn the furs himself at events like Trooping the Colour. Their aim is to get him to support a switch to faux fur – he is a keen environmentalist, after all. 

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