Buckingham Palace bearskin row

Buckingham Palace guards may be forced to ditch their traditional bearskin helmets.

Animal rights activists PETA have joined forces with anti-fur designers Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood to create a new synthetic 18-inch hat for the regiments guarding Queen Elizabeth’s London royal residence.

Baroness Taylor, the minister for defence procurement, will meet PETA representatives this week to discuss the animal-friendly helmet.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said: “The MoD is not opposed to the use of synthetic materials as an alternative to bearskins, provided such materials meet the requirement for a high quality product that performs adequately in all weather conditions. Regrettably, a suitable alternative continues to prove elusive.”

PETA are confident they can persuade the Ministry of Defence to drop the current headgear, which is made from Canadian black bear fur.

PETA director Robbie LeBlanc said: “This meeting is hugely significant for our campaign to save North American bears.

“If Baroness Taylor has a heart and can see the PR nightmare of the MoD continuing to support the Canadian bear slaughter, she can wield her influence and push the MoD to scrap the bearskin caps sooner rather than later.”

The iconic helmets have been worn for almost 200 years by regiments including the Grenadier, Welsh, Scots, Irish and Coldstream Guards.

The hats were first introduced after the Battle of Waterloo. They were paraded as a badge of honour by the Grenadier Guards after they defeated Napoleon’s bearskin-wearing Imperial Guard.