Have you ever wandered about bearskin hats?

Probably not.

But you will have seen them, they appear in most photos relating to Buckingham Place, the home of Queen Elizabeth II of England.

The traditional bearskin hats of the Grenadier Guards

So, why, what’s the story?

The bearskin cap was awarded to the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards for their participation at the Battle of Waterloo (1815), where they also attained name of the Grenadier Guards; to which they still hold it to this day.

Ever since then, the bearskin cap has been awarded to the subsequent Guards regiments of the Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards as a mark of their elite status and as regiments of Her Majesty’s Foot Guards.

Bearskin caps have always been made from the pelt of a black or a brown bear, the latter being the case for an officer’s bearskin cap.

Because of the cost to produce a single bearskin, it is only awarded to the most elite of regiments.

It adds apparent height and stature to a soldier, with height being a desirable attribute in European armies of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The bearskin cap was also a functional piece of headgear. Since the fur came down past the eyes, it broke the silhouette of the soldier head and lancers who were trained to hit the head, would hit the bearskin cap instead.

The curb chain, or ‘chin strap’, which some may wonder why is worn on the chin instead of under it, is so that it can protect face against Sabre slashes.

Source: WikiAnswers

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