Saturday, 17 June 2006

Trooping of the Bearskins

Today is a red letter day for Londoners - the Queen's Official Birthday and the spectacular Trooping of the Colour on Horseguards Parade. The Queen will arrive with the Duke of Edinburgh in Queen Victoria's 1842 phaeton carriage, followed by Prince Charles, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent on horseback. Prince Harry will appear for the first time in military uniform. The colour will be trooped this year by the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. Since it's the Queens 80th birthday (officially), a 'Feu de Joie' will be fired.

The sight of hundreds of guardsmen in their red tunics and black bearskins is enough to warm the heart of every God-fearing Briton. However, the dress of the Guards Division is not without controversy. In the face of opposition from animal rights activists, they have been experimenting with bearskins made of synthetic fur, but these have been pronounced inadequate - they get easily waterlogged, apparently, and lack the 'life' and 'bounce' of real bearskins.

So, Her Majesty's Army will continue buying up to 100 bearskins a year from licensed Canadian fur traders (at a cost of around £650 each). This demand consititutes a tiny proportion (under 1%) of the Canadian black bears killed each year. They are not an endangered species but the army has pledged to re-use as many old bearskins as possible.

Much as I love tradition, with temperatures forecast at 28C I won't be wearing a bearskin myself - I need to prepare myself for wearing a cope in similar temperatures tomorrow as we have our Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Willesden and Kensal Rise!


Blogger 1dayin7 said...

Great to find yet another UK Priest for my BlogList... but is there really such a thing as "Papal States Time"...?!

3:50 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Thanks for finding my blog - welcome! Well, the former Papal States sounds a little more exciting than 'Italy' or 'Rome'...

6:35 pm  
Blogger Fungulo said...

How DOES on 'prepare oneself' for the wearing of a cope?

2:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Father! I was seaching google for black cope in history of the Church and found a link to your blog. Can you tell me when it is appropriate for a priest to wear this? I have NEVER seen one worn. Is it something that was more or less dropped during the changes of Vatican II? ~hope, FT Wayne, IN, USA

3:28 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Black is still an option for funerals, alongside purple (and, in certain situations, white). A black cope could be worn for the reception of a body into the church, for Vespers of the Dead and for services in the cemetery or crematorium. Hope that helps.

3:48 pm  

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