Jeremy Clarkson shoots down Stephen Fry's bearskin campaign

"What should they do with the fur that's left over? Throw it away?"

Jeremy Clarkson leaves the Noel Coward Theatre in London after watching a performance of "Quiz". (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Jeremy Clarkson snapped at the Noel Coward Theatre in London. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Jeremy Clarkson doesn't buy into the idea of our King's Guard ditching its real bearskin adornments.

In the TV presenter's latest column for The Sun, he wrote: "Stephen Fry has thrown his weight behind a campaign to get soldiers in the King's Guard to change their bearskin hats to something more animal friendly. Really? We want the King being guarded by people in hats made from nylon?

"The fact is that indigenous tribes in the remote top end of Canada kill the bears and eat the meat. So what should they do with the fur that’s left over? Throw it away? Or sell it to the British Army and make a few quid?"

While narrating one of PETA's latest campaign clips, QI host Fry claimed "tradition is never an excuse for cruelty" and that failure to remove bearskin from traditional military uniforms "would be unconscionable" and "un-British".

"Bears who are shot don't always die outright," he said. "They may flee and endure a slow, painful death from infection or blood loss - only to be found hours later after the hunters follow their bloody trail."

PETA's senior campaign manager Kate Werner added: "It's time to modernise this iconic symbol of Britain by switching to a fabulous faux fur that has been tested specifically to ensure its suitability for use by the King's Guard."

Stephen Fry has called for the King's Guard to rid itself of real bearskin adornments. (Getty)
Stephen Fry has called for the King's Guard to rid itself of real bearskin adornments. (Getty)

British bearskin caps were first introduced in 1768 specifically for the grenadiers, but in 1831 this honour was also bestowed on the Scots Guard and Coldstream Guard regiments. When the Irish Guards and Welsh Guards established themselves in 1900 and 1915, they too adopted this tradition.

Skip to 2005 and the Ministry of Defence commenced a two-year testing programme in the hope of restructuring these hats, having already found success in replacing beaverskin and leopardskin.

However, 15 years later it was revealed that the "natural properties of bear fur" could not be traced in any faux alternative, with four of the MoD's five requirements not met. PETA disputed this in 2022, filing for judicial review while suggesting artificial fur meets, and in some instances, exceeds these requirements.

Armies in the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy are noted for using artificial headgear.

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Watch: Stephen Fry urges government to stop using real bear fur