British Army could allow beards and stubble in bid to boost recruitment
- The Army is considering ending its ban on beards as it may put off recruits
- More and more troops are given permission to sport beards on religious grounds
- Some credit Prince Harry with the popularity of the beard after his wedding
- He sported a full beard and the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals
Prince Harry raised eyebrows as he had a full beard while wearing the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals for his wedding
The Army is considering whether to relax its ban on beards amid claims it could be putting off potential recruits.
At the moment soldiers can sport a beard only if their commanding officer gives permission, something usually granted only on religious or medical grounds.
The Army argues beards and stubble can prevent protective breathing equipment from being tightly sealed on a soldier’s face.
But as more and more troops are granted the ability to have beards on religious grounds, some are questioning why this can’t be extended to all soldiers in a bid to boost recruitment.
The regular Army is currently several thousand soldiers short of its target strength.
Meanwhile, beards have become increasingly popular, especially among younger men, with a poll last year showing almost half of all British men have some sort of facial hair.
In a letter in Soldier magazine, which is published by the Ministry of Defence, Captain Dave Somerville warned fashionable young men could be put off joining the Army because they don’t want to shave off their beards.
The Army argues beards can prevent protective breathing equipment from being sealed
He wrote: ‘I have heard the respirator excuse trotted out many times but frankly that really doesn’t make sense. We allow certain individuals to have beards for religious reasons and they are as likely to require the use of that piece of kit as any of us.
‘The most annoying reason though is tradition, just like the one where we wore red tunics and advanced slowly towards the enemy. Enough said.’
Lt Col Rachel Emmerson, from the Army’s Employment Branch, said regulations relating to facial hair are regularly reviewed.
Prince Harry raised eyebrows as he had a full beard while wearing the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals for his wedding to Meghan Markle this year. Some credit the prince with helping make the beard more fashionable.
But as more and more troops are granted the ability to have beards on religious grounds, some are questioning why this can’t be extended to all soldiers in a bid to boost recruitment