Why do the King’s Guard wear those hats?
The King’s Guard uniform was not designed for aesthetics but for a practical function, and the hats form a major component.
Very few tourists who travel to London leave without a picture with some soldier of the King’s Guard in front of Buckingham Palace.
The Royal Guard of Charles III of England has one of the most characteristic uniforms in the world. The outfit was not made to have an aesthetic function but a practical one.
A look into the King’s Guard uniform
The members of the King’s Guard wear tall and very unique hats, which are believed to have been designed to make the infantry appear more fearsome and tall during confrontations and battles.
These same hats were already used in the Napoleonic wars, as well as by Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, who also came to wear them. They are called ‘bearskin’ hats because they are made from the skin of Canadian black bears and usually weigh almost one kilo and must be at least forty-five centimeters.
Fainting, in general, is not such an uncommon occurrence for those in the King’s Guard, who actually learn a “proper” way to go down. This summer, as temperatures reached record highs, many guards have fainted, highlighting the additional danger these suits pose to those wearing them as the climate warms.
Aside from the hats, the red suit is also a very recognizable part of their get-up. Red was selected because the dye was cheaper than other options, and being battle uniforms, the blood was less noticeable in that color.
Soldiers are allowed to yell, “make way for the queen’s guards,” in case there are tourists in front of them. If people do not heed or understand the order, they are allowed to push people. If any tourists act aggressively toward them, they can point their rifles at them.
The ceremony known as the changing of the guard takes place outside the palace building but inside its gates. If you are interested in viewing the changing of the guard without paying admission, you must make it to the palace around 10:30 any day of the week.