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Reason why British guards wear strap under lips instead of chins

James Hilsum

Published 
| Last updated 

Reason why British guards wear strap under lips instead of chins

The British guards, otherwise known as the King’s guards, don one of the most iconic uniforms throughout the world, known for its bright red colour, as well as their towering black hats.

Their presence at Buckingham Palace has attracted plenty of tourists looking to capture one of the most quintessential snaps on a visit to London.

However, their significance goes far beyond a photo opportunity, as these guards have been apart of British history for more than 360 years.

The British guards' bright red uniform is an iconic British symbol. Credit: Pexels.
The British guards' bright red uniform is an iconic British symbol. Credit: Pexels.

Much is already known about their uniforms, with WalesOnline reporting that guards’ iconic hats stand at roughly 18 inches tall and weigh about 1.5 pounds. The hats themselves are made of black bears’ fur and can last for up to 80 years.

The Grenadier Guards are the most well-known for donning the famous hats, and it is believed they were made bigger to intimidate their enemies.

However, one question has arisen regarding the impressive headgear though - why are the straps positioned under the lip instead of the chin?

Well, the reason relates to when soldiers fought while wearing the uniform. If a soldier was shot, having a chin strap could cause their neck to break if they fell backwards onto the ground. Therefore, wearing a strap under the lips would make wearing the heavy hat less dangerous.

There is also a cosmetic reason as to why the straps are placed beneath the lips, and that is believed that it helps distinguish them from other soldiers serving the Foot Guards.

Now, you would be forgiven for thinking that their job merely entails standing outside and guarding the royal residences.

And that is still part of the job, as guardsmen are required to stand for two hours while on sentry duty, along with four hours off to give their bodies time to recover.

However, that time extended to six hours in one shift when the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin was guarded for her lying in state.

Such a task takes a huge toll on the body, as footage circulated on social media of one guard collapsing and fainting behind the coffin.

The British guards will stand for long periods of time. Credit: Pexels
The British guards will stand for long periods of time. Credit: Pexels

Standing still for long periods can cause exhaustion, muscle strain, lower back pain and swelling of the feet.

This, along with the weight of their uniform, environmental conditions and pressure to fulfil their duties can lead the guards to faint whilst on duty.

But, aside from standing guard, what may be surprising is that these guards also perform duties all over the world as professional soldiers, with some being among the most skilled troops in the British army.

It really sounds like a tough job.

Featured Image Credit: Paul Grove / Alamy Stock Photo David Levenson / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: UK News, News

James Hilsum
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