Soldiers given go-ahead to grow beards as Army axes 100-year-old rule | Politics | News

Soldiers have been given the green light to grow beards following a decision by the Army to overturn a 100-year ban on facial hair.

The King, who is Commander in Chief, backed the move on Thursday which means that both officers and soldiers are able to do so from today (Friday).

It means soldiers on Easter leave have the opportunity to grow a beard while they are away from work, according to the Telegraph.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps had described the beard ban as “ludicrous” during discussions around the Army’s recruitment drive.

Now General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of the Army, has taken a decision that “the appearance policy will change” after a survey of both serving and reservist troops.

The RAF and Royal Navy already allow its personnel to do so.

According to The Times, the new policy will only allow a “full set beard”.

The length must be between 2.5mm and 25.5mm (one inch) and must be trimmed off the cheekbones and neck.

A document sent to soldiers also says their beards must not have “patchy or unevengrowth” as well as “no exaggerated colours”.

In December, Shapps told The Times: “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]. It is ridiculous. It is time to modernise.”

Meanwhile the Labour Party had also backed ending the beard ban. Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said it also backed letting soldiers have tattoos.

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