Monkey on my Back. Austerity £650 for a Bearskin Hat.

Uploaded 4 Mar 2013
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© Carlos Diaz

My personal Grenadier? Guard, silently protecting me from the London Art World in his £600-£700 Bearskin Hat.(Could be Coldstream, Irish, Scots, Welsh etc & thankfully, I can’t tell the difference by button spacing,design?) Surely If there was a tradition that is way past its sell by date, SURELY SHIRLEY, THIS MUST BE a contender!

I wonder if any of them actually EVEN CONSIDER, let alone give a f*ck about the Bears? Oh no, that must make me some kind of Lefty Socialist!

Instead of taking the money from the Elderly, Sick and Disabled, Why not just quietly swap the Bearskins for some Synthetic £10 Beanie with Tinsel on or is this proof positive that size REALLY does matter? Kerching, A Million quid suddenly appears in the Taxman’s allegedly empty coffers. Unless it’s for a new missile or guidance system that is?The Inuit, fair enough, if you’re in the back of beyond, animal skin, in some form or other, takes a lot of beating but THIS Bearskin nonsense isn’t about traditional, indigenous survival, It’s about, as I’ve said, clinging, tooth and nail to another facet of justification for a bygone age of dying Royal institutions in the present and to military pomp and circumstance and ultimately, ironically for the Taxpayer, financial self-circumcision. Once again, unwittingly, we grasp the notion of the superiority and necessity of the analogue monolith in an age of digital sleekness and functionality in some kind of attempt to deny reality. The emperor’s not so new clothes. Royalty, Religion and billions wasted on Britain’s illusory ‘Military might’, just three of our unnecessary, anachronistic hindrances.

In this time of'Austerity’, a Hat costing £600-£700 is justified? This seems somehow more than just ridiculous, it’s downright offensive. Not even mentioning the annual death of 100 Bears just for this cruel and outdated purpose. As far as I can tell, The Grenadier Guards are a Battalion strong, which can be from 300-1200 men so It’s unclear to me how many Dress hats they would need. Another of ‘Her Majesty’s personal Regiments are the Coldstream Guards, who ALSO use the Bearskin, and their numbers seem to be similar. Also, there are the Scots Guards, The Irish Guards, The Welsh Guards so I would think my estimate is WAY BELOW the REAL NUMBER! I’m guessing from an article I read, that in reality, each Battalion/Independent Company would be around the 700 mark? So, 1400 units of dress uniform (just Hat)would mean… (1400x£650) the cost would come close to a million pounds. That’s ONLY using numbers from The Coldstream and The Grenadier Guards.

The fact that the origin of the Bearskin came from the idea of Napoleon’s Troops fooling an enemy into thinking they were facing men who were 18 inches taller. The British then ‘Borrowed’ this brain-wave, apparently as a symbol of the victory; but seems now somewhat redundant, particularly as they no longer go to battle either either on foot or on horseback,

2 responses

  • Carlos Diaz

    Carlos Diaz said (4 Mar 2013):

    to my knowledge, changed to riding in Armour, as did many regiments. The mere fact that the Bear was shot (or killed apparently traditionally by the Inuit with loving strokes or more likely Canadian/American ‘Big White Hunters’) disproves ANY argument for a bearskin being effective when it comes to stopping a bullet or ANY kind of personal protection from a projectile or even a falling twig.

    I’m aware they’re for ceremonial purposes but that wasn’t always the case.

  • Carlos Diaz

    Carlos Diaz said (4 Mar 2013):

    I’m aware they’re for ceremonial purposes but that wasn’t always the case.

    Quote from wiki:

    “The standard bearskin of the British Foot Guards is 18 inches tall, weighs 1.5 pounds, and is made from the fur of the Canadian Black Bear. However, an officer’s bearskin is made from the fur of the Canadian Brown Bear as the female brown bear has thicker, fuller fur, and is dyed black. An entire skin is used for each hat.[7] The British Army purchase the hats, which are known as caps, from a British hatmaker which sources its pelts from an international auction. The hatmakers purchase between 50 and 100 black bear skins each year at a cost of about £650 each”- Sourced from Wiki and Parliamentary minutes so beware the Wiki error and governmental bullshit!

    We haven’t even touched on the Household Cavalry, their bespoke outfit, armour, Breast plate, Head-dress or any of the other obscure ‘Royal’ Regiments I have been SO remiss as to forget. Just do a Google search of Bearskin or PETA and you will see that the British are ONLY ONE OF THE MANY OFFENDERS.

    Photo ©2013 Carlos Diaz/Stewart Bowen. Text ©Bartlebooth.

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