Officials at Buckingham Palace, the home of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, issued a statement last week. The announcement says that no new outfits designed for Her Majesty will use real fur. The decision has animal rights activists celebrating and others wondering about the queen’s historic wardrobe.
The oldest clothing mankind ever used was made from animals. (See Genesis 3:21.) Fur has been used for millennia since because of its hardiness and warmth. But some people object to any human use of fur. Most do so out of concern for animal cruelty.
Early English lawmakers made rules about who could wear certain types of fur. For example, the lower classes were allowed to wear goat, sheep’s wool, and wolf. Middle classes wore fox, beaver, and rabbit. Only royalty and higher social classes could wear furs such as grey squirrel and ermine (a type of weasel).
Thus, the lowly white weasel became a symbol of power and wealth. Throughout history, many European monarchs have had their portraits painted wearing (or holding!) ermine.
Today, fur is still often associated with luxury and high fashion. Some modern clothing designers are working to change that. At least one designer is developing a synthetic fur. However, critics claim the process of making the fake fur harms the environment.
The queen’s decision to ditch new fur pleased animal rights activists. They have sometimes criticized the monarch for wearing the fur pieces in her collection of designer clothes.
Claire Bass is director of the Humane Society International/UK. She says, “We are thrilled Her Majesty has officially gone fur-free.” Bass thinks the queen’s decision sends a message: Fur is no longer fashionable.
After the announcement, palace officials quickly added that the new policy doesn’t mean the queen is throwing out the fur outfits she already has. The palace statement says, “The queen will continue to re-wear existing outfits in her wardrobe.” Good thing, since both her 1937 coronation robe and current crown are lined with weasel.
(In this November 28, 1952, file photo, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, wearing an ermine coat, arrives at Royal Festival Hall in London. AP Photo, File)