What’s new with the Queen?
We’ve learnt it from Angela Kelly, Senior Dresser of Queen Elizabeth II of England: The Queen is going fur-free! In her memoir, “The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe”, Kelly explained that “if Her Majesty is due to attend an engagement in particularly cold weather, from 2019 onward fake fur will be used to make sure she stays warm.”
By “going faux”, The Queen is setting a strong example and sending a powerful message, encouraging an ethical fashion trend that we should all follow. Many activist organisations dedicated to the well-being of animals, such as PETA UK, welcomed the news. Claire Bass, executive director of animal charity Humane Society International, was said to be “thrilled by the move”.
If you’ve paid attention to the way the Senior Dresser announced the news, you can read between the lines that The Queen will continue to wear the fur robes required for duty. Also, in what might be seen as a logical method of sustainability, she won’t throw away the pieces of clothing made with fur she already owns. But when used, those shall be replaced with faux fur.
Why is it good news?
Over 100 million animals around the world are killed each year for their fur. As you can imagine, their living conditions are far from ideal, and let’s not even mention the way they’re killed. To give you an insight, when those fur animals are killed by electrocution, neck breaking or drowning, these are the lucky ones. In addition, the whole fur process contributes to climate change because of land pollution and devastation, but mainly because of water contamination.
Let’s be honest then, anyone quitting fur is good news. How can we not to welcome The Queen’s commitment? Well, I guess by having mixed feelings about the lack of coherence between the Country’s statements about fur. I’ll explain.
The Queen’s Guards, famous for their uniforms including their hats, are not going faux fur. All the Guards are still wearing the so-called “bearskins”. As their name suggests it, these hats are made with bear skin. Each year, the British army take 100 bear skins from the Black Bear Cull in Canada.
We know that, since 2005, the British Ministry of Defence is trying to find an alternative to the bear fur. Tests have been done, but so far artificial fur is said to be unable to fit the same rigorous criteria than the original. Unfortunately, I don’t think that saving animals is really what motivates the Ministry or the Army to try and change such a tradition. The fact that in a decade the price of that bear skin rose by 500% might more likely be the reason they aspire to find alternatives.
What’s the public’s opinion in the UK?
Since 2000, the UK has banned fur farming on its soil. It was the first country worldwide to implement that ban. Claire Bass has asked the Government to go further and ban the sale of fur, making the UK the first country to do so. Today, the country is continuing to import fox, mink and rabbit fur.
Bass stated that “Queen Elizabeth’s decision to go “faux fur” 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.” More than 2/3 of the British population support fur prohibition.
What is the debate in Ireland, the EU and more?
In Ireland, three fur farms are still in activity, all of them mink. Located in Donegal, Laois and Kerry, these farms combined kill about 150,000 minks a year. Their main arguments to keep fur farming is based on three – to be proven incorrect – pillars. Firstly, they say they employ permanent staff and give jobs to the locals, when reality shows that on average they have only three permanent workers per farm. Secondly, they try to convince us that fur farming is Irish heritage. Oh surprise, it’s not. Only one of the three fur farms in Ireland belongs to an Irish family. Thirdly, fur farming is said to actively support the national economy. Well again, as shown in other countries including the UK, bans on fur farming have had no negative impacts on the economy.
According to a Red C Research published in October 2018, 80% of the Irish population agree that fur farming and killing should be banned. This is not even the highest rate in Europe. Italy culminates with 91%, followed by Belgium and Germany with 86%. However, some European countries remain more split such as France, with 51% of its nationals agreeing on a ban, or Denmark with 55%.
The UK opened the way in Europe to ban fur farming in 2000. Then, went along Austria (2004), Denmark (2009 – for fox farming only), Slovenia (2013), the Republic of Macedonia (2014) to name a few.
The European Union passed regulations regarding fur farming, namely European Directive 98/58/EC (concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes) in 1998 and the Council of Europe Recommendation Concerning Fur Animals in 1999. Fur farming as it’s done today simply does not comply with these regulations, twenty years later.
Worldwide, a few brands decided to drop fur from their collections, including Prada, Gucci and DKNY. In the USA, Macy’s Inc – one of the biggest American retailers – announced that it would stop selling fur by the end of 2020 fiscal year. California state, ahead of the rest of the US and most of the rest of the world, banned the manufacture and sale of animal fur. We can only hope to see more commitments heading in this direction.
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