Life

Queen Elizabeth Makes History As 1st Royal To Go Fur-Free

What do Gucci, the state of California, and a monarch have in common?

Nothing — apparently — can hide from the flailing tentacles of the fur-free fashion movement. Not major fashion designers, not Kim Kardashian-West. Even the whole state of California can’t hide. Equally incapable of hiding, now, is Queen Elizabeth II, who is officially going fur-free as of … well … as of now.

In a new memoir, “The Other Side of the Coin,” the Queen’s dresser and personal adviser Angela Kelly revealed that the monarch will no longer be wearing fur during future royal appearances.

“If Her Majesty is due to attend an engagement in particularly cold weather, from 2019 onwards fake fur will be used to make sure she stays warm,” Kelly wrote. The book also contains an endorsement from the Queen herself, which is rare, considering the Royal Family usually isn’t keen on anyone discussing their private affairs.

The Queen has historically been fond of fur trims, fur hats, and fur coats.
The Queen has historically been fond of fur trims, fur hats, and fur coats.

“The Queen has always, and her family have always, frowned on staff ever speaking about things,” royal commentator Richard Berthelsen told CTV News. “The Queen has become really close to Angela, and Angela’s been given permission to write this book.”

That’s not to say that the Queen will never be seen in a fur garment ever again. She’s still royalty, and her record certainly precedes her: she has a long and more recently controversial history of wearing ultra-luxe coats, shawls, and robes to public events.

The news really means that, in the future, any outfits designed for the Queen will use fake fur. The outfits she presently has, the ones that include fur, won’t necessarily be replaced, and the possibility still exists that the Queen will repeat some of those outfits.

Basically, the new direction will only affect new garments. The Queen won’t be attacking her closet with a garbage bag.

In 2013, PETA urged Queen Elizabeth to get "with these more enlightened times" by cutting out fur from her wardrobe completely.
In 2013, PETA urged Queen Elizabeth to get "with these more enlightened times" by cutting out fur from her wardrobe completely.

“Queen Elizabeth’s decision to ‘go faux’ is the perfect reflection of the mood of the British public, the vast majority of whom detest cruel fur, and want nothing to do with it,” Claire Bass, the executive director of Humane Society International, told the Telegraph.

“Our Head of State going fur-free sends a powerful message that fur is firmly out of fashion and does not belong with Brand Britain.”

The message is certainly current. Over the last few decades, and these days especially, animal fur has become a particularly hot arena for intense shouting matches, usually between PETA and the high fashion world. (The group has also long criticized the Royal Family for using bear fur in the hats of the Queen’s guard.)

The high fashion world has also seen a recent shift away from using fur, with some of the biggest brands choosing to go fur-free. 
The high fashion world has also seen a recent shift away from using fur, with some of the biggest brands choosing to go fur-free. 

Brands and department stores have scrambled to respond to criticism and disavowals, and many major fashion designers — including Gucci, Prada, Margiela, Tommy Hilfiger, and, most recently, Chanel — have forsaken the use of fur entirely, much to the satisfaction of the animal rights groups who have been lobbying them for years.

This wave of change in the industry has also raised urgent questions about whether faux fur is truly a better alternative to animal fur, considering the environmental impact — toxic emissions, eutrophication — synthetic fabrics can have. There is also the concern about the labour practices used to create those fabrics.

The U.K. banned fur farming nearly 20 decades ago, but has yet to ban fur sales.
The U.K. banned fur farming nearly 20 decades ago, but has yet to ban fur sales.

The British Fur Trade Association (BFTA) has even warned against the tectonic shift, arguing that animal fur is sustainable, plastic free, and lasts a long time.

“The Royal Family have been at [the] forefront of championing animal welfare and conservation efforts across the globe for many years something that aligns fully with responsibly sourced fur,” a spokesperson from BFTA told the Telegraph.

“Natural fur is one of the most sustainable and long lasting natural products available, so despite what animal rights groups would claim, we are sure that the Royal Family will continue to wear responsibly sourced fur as many on the high street continue to do.”