Why do the queen's guards wear such tall hats? 🙄 🧐

To scare the French. 😮 😕 They're up there with double-decker buses, red phone booths and Big Ben when it comes to quintessentially British things, but the uniforms sported by Queen Elizabeth II's guards weren't designed to look aesthetically pleasing. They were devised as essential accoutrements of battle against the United Kingdom's enemies during the 1800s. So why do these guards wear tall black hats and conspicuous red tunics? As hard as it may be to believe, the uniform was supposed to intimidate opposing armies. "The idea was that you made your foot soldiers look taller and therefore more fearsome," said Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator based in London. "They used to fulfill a practical need for a foot soldier in battle. They were used when fighting the French in the Napoleonic wars. In fact, Napoleon's Imperial Guard wore them, too." The hats are known as bearskins because — you guessed it — they're made of bear fur. The pelts come from Canadian black bears (Ursus americanus) that are culled each year to control their numbers. That means no bears are killed specifically to make the 18-inch-tall (46 centimeters) helmets, but the idea still makes some people uncomfortable. In fact, since the U.K. left the European Union in 2020, there has been talk of outlawing the fur trade altogether. For now, though, the British Army buys between 50 and 100 of the hats, which cost about $900 each, per year, according to the British high-society magazine, Tatler. The Coldstream Guard takes part in the ceremonial Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace in 2016. (Image credit: 400tmax via Getty Images)

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