Spain bans ‘Civil Guard’ Carnival costumes

Spain's government has pre-emptively pooped the party during the run-up to Carnival, a pre-Lent national celebration which typically features fancy dress parades, by banning the popular practice of wearing comedy 'Civil Guard' attire.

Variations on the force's green costume and distinctive tricornio hat are a common sight at parades and events across Spain.

The majority are home-made but most costume rental companies also offer a version in their catalogue.

Wearers often accessorize with false moustaches and dark glasses, adopting the swagger and macho stance sometimes attributed to members of Spain's military-status police force.

Pastiches of the uniform are often worn by satirists on TV comedy shows and versions are even seen at trade fairs and school fetes.

But now the government has rained on the parade by banning anyone who is "outside the Armed Institute" (as the Civil Guard is often known) from sporting copies of its famous headware.

The Ministry of the Interior announced on Tuesday that from now on it would be for "the exclusive use of current or retired members of the force",  without "express authorization for reasons of professional, social or cultural interest".

The Civil Guard has been heavily criticized this week by some NGOs for its role during events in Ceuta which led to the death of 14 would-be immigrants.

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