We have seen much of the Queen's Grenadiers in the past few weeks — the soldiers in dress uniform who wear the hats made from bears' fur. You know, the big furry hats that seem to come down over their eyes.
Yes, unfortunately, they are made from the pelts of actual bears. Despite calls by some to use artificial fur, they still employ the real thing, and the real thing is getting quite expensive.
We call those hats busbys, and basically also call the soldiers who wear them busbys, but busbys are really the hats and not the soldiers.
In Canada, you may see them standing on guard at the Governor General's residence in Ottawa. I think we also see them during summer at the ceremonial Changing of Guard parade during the summer on Capital Hill.
I don't know how many times I have seen them without ever remembering what is, I suppose, my very first connection from when I was very young. Despite all that we have seen recently, I did not remember this until something about busbys came up in conversation during our kaffeeklatsch this week.
For whatever reason, I suddenly remembered my little toy soldier, busby bank when I was a boy. I possibly had it sometime between the age of 5 and 10 (probably closer to 5 than 10), so it was 65 to 70 years ago. I am almost certain that I haven't thought of my little soldier bank since then, for why would I? But then at coffee of all times and places, the memory surfaced. The recent ceremonies didn't evoke the recollection, nor the several times that I have seen them in person, but a chance remark over coffee took me back to that little toy bank.
I wish I could find an image of the little bank, but of course I can't.
Busby is the English name for the Hungarian prémes csákó ("fur shako") or kucsma, a military head-dress made of fur, originally worn by Hungarian hussars. In its original Hungarian form the busby was a cylindrical fur cap, having a bag of coloured cloth hanging from the top. The end of this bag was attached to the right shoulder as a defence against sabre cuts.If you go to the Wikipedia link, you will see that a busby hat doesn't have to look exactly like those with which we are familiar. Any military hat that fulfills the above definition is a busby hat. Who knew? Not I.