British army lifts ban on serving soldiers having beards

British army lifts ban on serving soldiers having beards
# 29 March 2024 15:10 (UTC +04:00)

Soldiers and officers are now allowed to grow beards while serving in the British Army, APA reports citing BBC.

The beards and moustaches must be neat, properly groomed and will be routinely checked.

The policy comes into immediate effect as the Army becomes the last of the armed forces to allow its personnel to grow beards.

The new directive follows years of discussion around the Army's policy on facial hair.

The change follows a review into the Army's policy on the appearance of its personnel which lasted several months, an Army spokesman told the BBC.

Army leadership then looked at the findings before deciding to change the policy.

"We have listened to our people and acted," the spokesman said.

There may be specific occasions where the personnel are required to be clean-shaven, the Army said, and officers and soldiers will be "directed to shave as and when circumstances dictate".

It is thought that Army leaders hope the new policy will help attract new recruits.

Several foreign armies, such as those of Denmark, Germany, and Belgium, allow troops to grow a beard.

Troops of certain faiths, such as Sikhs, Muslims and Rastafarians, were already allowed to grow full beards as long as they did not put their operational effectiveness, health or safety at risk.

The Times reported that the new policy was announced by Warrant Officer Class 1 Paul Carney, the most senior non-commissioned officer in a four-minute video message to troops.

"Getting to an outcome has taken a bit longer than expected due to the larger number of stakeholders that were involved, including His Majesty the King, our politicians and our allies," he is reported to have said.

"Chief of the General Staff has taken account of your views and has decided the appearance policy will change with our officers and soldiers being allowed to grow beards."

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said in an interview with the newspaper last year that banning beards in the Army was "ridiculous", and called on the institution to "modernise".

"How is it we are still struggling with recruitment and then arbitrarily saying you can't join," he said.

The Royal Air Force has permitted its personnel to sport facial hair since 2019, while the Royal Navy has allowed beards and moustaches for years.