Queen Elizabeth II: A life with corgis

  • Animals
  • Friday, 09 Sep 2022

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh (right) with their three sons, (from left) Edward, Charles and Andrew, and the royal corgis, at their 32nd wedding anniversary in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, on Nov 20, 1979. Photo: TNS

Some queens may be remembered for their court, but many will hold fond memories of Queen Elizabeth II's love for her corgis.

Throughout her life, the queen, who died Thursday (Sept 8) at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, owned more than 30 of the dogs, according to the American Kennel Club. She was "one of the most prolific and dedicated Pembroke Welsh corgi breeders and ambassadors that the world has ever seen," the AKC story says.

A separate organisation, The Kennel Club, based in the UK, passed along sympathies to the Royal Family on Twitter, saying, "As one of the most dog loving monarchs in history her patronage will be greatly missed."

Photos document the queen's love of corgis throughout the past century, even dating back to when she was 10 years old.

Royal family followers and dog lovers also flocked to social media to remember Queen Elizabeth II and her passion for corgis.

Queen Elizabeth II with her dogs prior to boarding her plane at London airport on May 10, 1953. Photo: TNSQueen Elizabeth II with her dogs prior to boarding her plane at London airport on May 10, 1953. Photo: TNS

Photographer Annie Leibovitz posted an image of the Queen with a quartet of dogs and wrote, "The Queen went out walking with her dogs every day."

SoCalCorgiNation, an organisation that sponsors events at Huntington Beach, California, described the Queen on Instagram as "a true example of the unbreakable bond, deep affection and special place we all hold in our hearts for corgis.... We trust she is now at peace, smiling in paradise – reunited once again with her corgis of the past."

WNBA player Megan Gustafson of the (basketball team) Phoenix Mercury tweeted, "Rest in Peace, Queen Elizabeth. My inspiration for loving corgis came from you."

In its tribute to the queen and her love of dogs, the AKC detailed how the royal family got its first Pembroke Welsh corgi. A breeder brought a litter of puppies to the then-Duke of York in 1933 and they choose a dog, which was dubbed Dookie, according to the AKC. Then a second Pembroke Welsh corgi named Jane was given by the breeder Thelma Gray a few years later.

Queen Elizabeth II arriving at King's Cross railway station in London with her four corgis after a holiday in Balmoral Castle in Scotland, on Oct 15, 1969. Photo: AFPQueen Elizabeth II arriving at King's Cross railway station in London with her four corgis after a holiday in Balmoral Castle in Scotland, on Oct 15, 1969. Photo: AFP

When that dog died, another Pembroke Welsh corgi was given to then-Princess Elizabeth, who was then 18, as a birthday gift. That dog, which would be named Susan, became the common ancestor for all of the Queen's subsequent dogs, "an incredible genetic legacy", the AKC wrote.

The death of her dog, Willow, in 2018, was the last tie to Susan, which apparently was among the 14th generation of Susan's descendants, the AKC wrote.

After 2012, the Queen reportedly said she didn't want to breed any more of the dogs because she "didn't want to leave any young dog behind".

One person tweeted the family tree of the queen and royal family's corgis, which was published earlier this year by the BBC.

The dogs, the BBC noted, "are a connection to her father, and a more carefree time". "Every puppy after Susan was a way of keeping part of that with her, and a reminder that life and dynasties go on."

Throughout the palace and elsewhere, the dogs were allowed to scamper ahead, "a freedom denied to the queen herself", the BBC said, as well as her husband Prince Philip, who walked a bit behind her.

Princess Diana reportedly called the corgis "a moving carpet", while the Queen called them "the girls" and "the boys", according to the BBC.

The corgis got some screen time, too. Earlier this year, actor Daniel Craig recalled on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the filming of a skit with the queen for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics. Craig, in character as James Bond, came to Buckingham Palace and escorted the queen to a helicopter and, as the skit went, they parachuted into Olympic Stadium.

The queen, he said, was "very funny", and she made a joke when they were having their photo taken. "She just went, oh no, he's the one that doesn't smile."

When asked what the corgis – which were also prominent in the skit – were like, Craig said, "I was rolling around on the floor with them most of the time.... They were just there. I think they have their own footmen, they're very friendly." – Tribune News Service/USA Today/Mike Snider

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