It’s the Bearded Army! British soldiers will finally be able to grow a full beard after King Charles gives military chiefs permission to end the 100-year ban


  • Warrant Officer Class 1 Paul Carney told troops that their beards must be neat

British Army soldiers and officers will finally be allowed to grow a full beard after King Charles gave his approval, allowing military chiefs to end the more than 100-year ban.

The army’s most senior non-commissioned officer announced that the change will be coming in immediately, meaning those wishing to stop shaving over the Easter break will have time to grow out their facial hair.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Paul Carney told troops that their beards will be subject to review and that crucially, they must be kept neat.

Only a ‘full set beard’ will be permitted and the length must be between Grade 1 (2.5mm) and Grade 8 (25.5mm or one inch), according to the new policy.

It will need to be ‘trimmed off the cheekbones and neck’ and there must be ‘no patchy or uneven growth’ and ‘no exaggerated colours’.

Beards are permitted for some military positions on parade, including Pioneer Sergeants (pictured)

Beards are permitted for some military positions on parade, including Pioneer Sergeants (pictured)

In a four-minute video outlining the new regulations, WO1 Carney warned soldiers: ‘Our standards can’t drop. 

‘The Army has a reputation for professionalism and a smart turnout, with our allies and with the British public.

‘We must maintain that reputation by continuing to look our best.’

The ban on beards for most British soldiers dates back to the 19th century, despite years of debate and criticism of what is widely seen as an outdated policy.

The Royal Navy has long permitted sailors to have full beards and moustaches, with their commanding officer’s consent.

The RAF changed its dress regulations in 2019 to allow serving members to grow beards.

The Army has long cited a reason for the ban as being that beards can prevent gas masks from sealing to soldiers’ faces. 

Only moustaches are allowed for most soldiers in the Army, but beards are permitted for some military positions on parade, including Pioneer Sergeants, Drum Majors, Pipe Majors, Bugle Majors, and Goat Majors. 

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps recently slammed what he called the ‘ridiculous’ ban, saying that armies in other parts of the world are ‘perfectly capable of fighting with beards’.

Only a 'full set beard' will be permitted and the length must be between 2.5mm and 25.5mm (one inch), according to the new policy

Only a ‘full set beard’ will be permitted and the length must be between 2.5mm and 25.5mm (one inch), according to the new policy

‘The armed forces get terribly pernickety about whether people have beards or not. Nowadays people have beards. 

‘How is it we are still struggling with recruitment and then arbitrarily saying you can’t join [if you grow a beard], he told The Times, adding: ‘It is time to modernise.’

It is hoped that the new policy will help to attract recruits as Britain’s armed forces face a recruitment crisis, with fears that the number of personnel could drop below the target force of 73,000 within months.

Last year alone, almost 74,000 people who applied to join the army, RAF or navy withdrew, amounting to more than half of the potential recruits.

This was particularly stark in the army with seven in ten applicants giving up on the process altogether before getting accepted.



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