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PETA defends Duchess Kate in heated fur debate

The animal-rights group is defending the Duchess of Cambridge from a fur-industry trade organization who claimed she was wearing fur. But the coat in question was made of shearling, considered by PETA to be less cruel than fur.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

The Duchess of Cambridge found an ally this week when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals took to her defense after a fur-industry trade group congratulated the fashionista for stepping out in what appeared to be a fur-lined coat.

Earlier this month, the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) posted a Feb. 6 photo of Kate in a short brown coat on their Facebook fan page with the caption "Royal chic: Kate Middleton in London wearing a classy fur-lined coat with an urban twist." The coat in question was actually shearling.

PETA checked with palace officials, who told them in a statement that "Her Royal Highness was not wearing fur. The coat was not lined with fur." PETA, then claiming that the coat was lined with fake fur, demanded the IFTF take the photo down and threatened legal action against them.

On Wednesday afternoon, the IFTF responded. The trade group took down the post and posted an apology: "The photograph of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was removed from our Facebook page as soon as we were made aware that the coat she was wearing was lined with fake fur."

“[Duchess Kate's] decision not to wear fur puts her in the company of public figures such as Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and the late Princess Diana, all of whom swore off fur because of the cruelty inherent in the fur industry,” a PETA spokesman told on Thursday. “This was a poor and desperate attempt by the International Fur Trade Federation to promote its products.”

A real fur-lined coat would have been quite a provocative move for Kate, who's so far been extremely PC in her wardrobe decisions. It would certainly have angered the animal rights activists who have thus-far applauded Middleton on her animal-friendly clothing.

However, determined that Kate wasn’t wearing fake fur; she was actually wearing shearling, a fact that confirmed with palace officials. Several media outlets reported that the coat is a $1,100 (£695) “Darwin” jacket by L.K. Bennett, although the palace would not confirm the designer.

What is shearling?
Shearling isn't sheared wool as many people believe — it is the skin of a sheep or lamb who has been shorn once “shortly before slaughter,” according to PETA. The skin is tanned with the wool intact. The animal rights group addressed their mistake Friday in a statement to and expressed their appreciation that Kate refrained from wearing traditional fur, which they consider more cruel than shearling.

“In addition to considering what all animals go through when their own coats are taken from them, PETA asks everyone to refrain from wearing leather, wool, shearling and silk. But that is all an extra step — the Duchess has taken a vital first step in denouncing the cruelty of real fur, and we are very pleased,” a PETA spokesperson told

Tell us what you think in the comments below. Do you think it is important for her not to wear fur?