I am aware of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) ongoing campaign to replace the real fur used in the bearskin King’s Guards ceremonial caps with faux fur.
Guardsmen take great pride in wearing the bearskin cap, which is an iconic image of Britain. Individual soldiers do not possess their own hats and they are cared for and shared within the Household Division. Despite their constant use, every effort is made to carefully prolong the longevity of each ceremonial cap. On account of this, they usually last for more than a decade, with some having been in use for as long as 60 years.
That said, I understand that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) would like to find an alternative material to bearskin should one prove acceptable. Indeed, I am informed that where sustainable, affordable, and appropriate faux material exists, the MOD has used it.
I am told tests conducted on potential faux fur products for the ceremonial caps have shown that, while water penetration was reduced, it still did not meet the necessary standard, and performed poorly in the remaining basic requirements areas. In addition, the most recent test results, provided by PETA from an accredited testing house, have been analysed by the MOD. The analysis concluded that the fabric only met one of the five basic requirements. To date, therefore, and to the MOD’s knowledge, there is no current faux fur alternative available that meets the required standard to provide an effective replacement for the King’s Guards ceremonial caps. You can read more about this here
However, I can assure you the UK goes to great lengths to ensure that the pelts that make the King's Guards caps are procured in the most responsible way possible. Bears are never hunted to order for the MOD and the bear pelts used for the King’s Guards’ ceremonial caps are sourced exclusively from Canada following a licensed cull as part of a programme to manage their wild bear population. precisely because it is a regulated market and a declared party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Where appropriate the MoD uses faux fur alternatives for ceremonial wear, providing they meet the specific user requirements.