The Queen’s Guard May Have to Give Up Their Iconic Bearskin Hats

Can you tell that this is real bear fur?
Can you tell that this is real bear fur?
Defence Images, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) has given its leaders the chance to negotiate new trade deals and maybe even ban the sale of certain products—like fur. It’s something animal rights activists have long been pushing for, and a recently publicized letter from UK environment secretary George Eustice suggests that the government will indeed investigate the possibility.

As The Independent reports, Eustice wrote to the chief executive of the British Fur Trade Association that “once the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU has been established, there will be an opportunity to consider further steps it could take in relation to fur sales.” It’s far from a definitive proclamation, but since Eustice has seemed open to banning fur in the past, the letter has been taken as a positive sign for the anti-fur movement.

If the UK does eventually prohibit the sale of fur, this could mean the end of the authentic bearskin hats worn by the Queen’s Guard, who are most often seen stationed outside Buckingham Palace. According to Londonist, the 18-inch hats are created with fur from black bears killed during Canada’s annual black bear cull—a large-scale hunt that helps keep the population under control—and the UK Ministry of Defence purchases up to 100 new hats for the famously unflappable infantrymen each year.

The tradition of donning such eccentric headgear dates back to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when Napoleon’s Imperial Guard wore similar hats to make them seem taller and more intimidating. After the French were defeated by the Duke of Wellington and his British army, Britain adopted the hats as a symbol of victory.

But even if the UK does prohibit fur in the future, the Queen’s Guard could still keep the custom going. After all, there are plenty of convincing kinds of fake fur on the market these days. And as for what Queen Elizabeth II might think about the shift, we’re guessing she’d condone it; she herself gave up wearing fur products in 2019.

[h/t The Independent]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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How Princess Margaret Inspired the Modern Horoscope

Eric Koch / Anefo, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Eric Koch / Anefo, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister Princess Margaret supplied the gossip columns of Great Britain and beyond with a nearly endless stream of material. From her sharp fashion and towering hairdos to a rumored romance with Picasso, it seemed Margaret had been fated for a life in the tabloids.

As it turns out, Margaret’s pop culture legacy indeed began, quite literally, at birth. Not only did the princess prompt regular bits of tabloid gossip, she also helped to inspire the modern-day horoscope.

Predicting the Princess

John Gordan never intended to revamp astrology for the 20th century. As editor of the Sunday Express, all he wanted in August 1930 was to find a new angle from which to cover another royal birth. What was there to say about King George V’s fourth grandchild, who was unlikely to do anything newsworthy for at least a decade or two? Gordon hit upon a clever workaround: He’d cover the princess’s future instead of her present.

To get the scoop on Margaret's prospects, he called a famous astrologer and asked him to make a prediction about what her life might hold—an unusual, but not necessarily unheard of, idea. The astrologer was busy, but his assistant, R.H. Naylor, offered to step in. Gordon gave him the gig.

Naylor’s write-up, “What the Stars Foretell for the New Princess,” said little more than that Margaret would lead an “eventful life.” That, as Craig Brown points out in his book, Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret, was “a prediction that was possibly on the safe side, since few lives are without any event whatsoever.” Still, it was a hit, inspiring reader requests for additional predictions.

Astrology for the Masses

R. H. Naylor's horoscope for Princess Margaret.Sunday Express 1930, Wikimedia Commons // Fair use

To capitalize on the article’s success, Gordon commissioned Naylor to write regular predictions on world events. Before long, he was credited with predicting an airship crash, and his contract was quickly upgraded to a weekly column dubbed “Your Stars,” through which Gordon aimed to bring the thrill of birthdate-based forecasts to everyday Express readers.

The first iteration of “Your Stars” took a traditional approach, offering insights only to those whose birthdays fell within the week. Making astrological predictions at the time was an individualized enterprise, with painstaking references to celestial objects’ locations at the moment of someone’s birth. But both men knew they could sell more papers if readers had reason to engage more than once a year.

To deliver premonitions in bulk, they drew from an ancient innovation: zodiac signs. By grouping all those born, for example, between mid-July and mid-August together as Leos, Naylor could apply a single forecast to the lot of them. Now, just 12 predictions each week were enough to cover the entirety of the Express readership.

Thus, the modern horoscope was born—and thrives to this day. The “mystical services” market is a $2.2 billion industry, and five of the 10 most popular English papers—including the Express—still run regular horoscope columns.

An Enduring Legacy

Looking back, Naylor was wise to have been so vague about baby Margaret. His more specific predictions weren’t always winners—certainly not his 1941 advice to Britons born in January and November that, when it came to avoiding German air raids, they were “‘safest’ in the open.”

But he got lucky with his 1930 claim that “events of tremendous importance to the Royal Family and the nation” would happen near Margaret’s seventh year. That prediction seemed eerily prescient in 1936, when Margaret’s uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Suddenly, Margaret’s father was king, her sister Elizabeth was next in line, and Margaret’s own status rose to a level that all but guaranteed her a permanent place in the tabloid glare. An “eventful life,” after all.