Soldiers serving in British Army are allowed to grow beards, new policy says

A Sikh soldier of the British Army during a shooting competition during the Holla Mahalla Sikh military festival, at the Aldershot Garrison, Hampshire. Credit: PA

Soldiers and officers in the British Army will now be allowed to grow beards after a rule dating back more than a century was overturned.

The Army has confirmed the changes will come into immediate effect following a review of its policy on personal appearance.

Beards and moustaches must be neat, properly groomed and would be routinely checked.

The Times reported the policy, which had to be approved by the King, stated that only a “full set beard” was allowed, with length limited to between 2.5mm and 25.5mm and no “patchy or uneven” growth or “exaggerated” colours.

The Army is the last of the armed forces to allow personnel to grow beards and follows years of discussion around the policy.

An Army spokesperson said: “Over the last few months, we’ve been conducting a review of our policy on personal appearance. An extensive audience of regular officers and soldiers, reservists, full-time reserve service staff and veterans have taken the opportunity to provide their views.

“Army leadership have reviewed the findings and the Chief of the General Staff has directed that the appearance policy will change, and officers and soldiers will be allowed to grow beards.

“We have listened to our people and acted.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “With Army recruitment being a big priority and a recent YouGov (poll) finding most men (54%) now say they currently have a beard or moustache, I asked the Army to formally review the outdated beard ban. Today, this sensible change in rules has been made.”

The Army has also confirmed that officers and soldiers would still be asked to shave on occasions when operational or occupational considerations were required.

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