Drummers spotted wearing leopard print dress for Queen's funeral
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With an expected 4.1 billion people from across the globe tuning in to watch the Queen's funeral today (19 September), it's no surprise every tiny detail about the historic event has garnered attention from viewers at home.
That includes the leopard and tiger print getup worn by the bass drummers of the marching band – a stark contrast to the majority of mourners following the all black dress code.
Many will have seen the outfit before, as it's a common piece of uniform at formal occasions such as this.
If you're wondering what big cat skins have to do with the Queen's state funeral, turns out it's all part of a long-running tradition dating back to the 18th century.
As explained by Forces.net, drummers in the Royal Marines Band used to wear real tiger or leopard furs – with the heads and paws still attached – draped across their torsos.
The reason being that back in the day the strong furs would protect their uniforms from being damaged by the big, bulky instruments.
Though they served a purpose, the practice of using real skin started to upset people, especially given concerns around endangered species laws.
As such, a few years ago the military decided to replace the real pelts for imitation fur aprons like the ones seen at the Queen's ceremony today.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said in 2019: "Tiger skins worn by Bass Drummers in the Royal Marines Band Service are taken from animals which have died of natural causes, and are never the product of hunting.
"The remaining skins are being replaced by synthetic versions as and when required."
The (faux) fur-dressed drummers join the hundreds of troops who have been strictly rehearsing for the Queen's ceremony over the past week.
Diplomats, world leaders, and other VIPs are making their way to the historic event to pay their respects today, including US President Joe Biden.
The Queen passed away in her Balmoral estate on Thursday 8 September at age 96, after a 70-year reign.
Following the funeral, she will be buried on the grounds of Windsor Castle alongside her late husband Prince Philip.
After passing away in April 2021, he was buried in the Royal Vault at St George's Chapel. However, he is expected to be moved so he can be laid to rest next to his wife of 73 years.