The Queen and her corgis
On hearing the sad news that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away, I got to thinking, among other things, about her beloved dogs — the fabulous corgis that were so often seen accompanying her.
It has been announced that her son Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, will take care of the Queen’s remaining dogs at Royal Lodge, in the grounds of the Windsor Estate. I am sure they will continue to have a wonderful life, albeit away from the limelight they once knew.
So why did this characterful dog play such an important role in the life of the Queen?
The story goes that her first corgi was a gift from her father, the then Duke of York, on her seventh birthday. This pup held the grand name of Rozavel Golden Eagle but became known by the nickname Dookie and was, by all accounts, very naughty. This badly behaved pup started a love of this breed for the Queen, which lasted for the remainder of her life. Perhaps it was the connection to her father, or merely their rambunctious fun-loving character that kept these dogs a constant presence around the palace.
In 1944, Elizabeth received the corgi puppy Susan as a gift for her 18th birthday. Susan became her constant companion for almost fifteen years and she founded the breeding line of Windsor Pembroke Corgis, none of which was ever sold. Instead, the puppies were given to carefully selected friends and family members.
There was an illicit liaison between Princess Margaret’s dachshund, Pipkin, and a corgi named Tiny in the 1970s, which resulted in dorgi pups. Apparently the Queen liked them so much that they mated them again.
The Kennel Club records showed a spike in corgi registrations in the 1950s and 1960s, which was attributed to their royal connections. More recently though, the breed was almost threatened by extinction until the Netflix series The Crown created a new surge in registrations.
The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who was apparently less taken with the dogs, always walked a step behind the Queen, but the corgis paid no mind to such strict protocols and were often seen scampering ahead.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is described in the official breed standard as “low-set, strong, sturdy built and active, giving an impression of substance and stamina in a small space”. When you hear how so many people have described the Queen since her passing, the words “substance” and “stamina” seem to be hallmarks of her long reign. It is little wonder that she was so taken by this charming, fun-filled breed.
We now have a new King, Charles III, who is said to prefer labradors to corgis, and is a lifelong owner of Jack Russell terriers. Therefore, as the corgis move out of Buckingham Palace, perhaps we will see some new four-legged friends moving in.
• Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda