They were not just a love, not just little companions of everyday life. Queen Elizabeth II’s passion for her Corgi and Dorgi dogs has made them become a lifestyle, a symbol of her long reign. The lineage of these short-legged but lively-spirited dogs officially began with Susan, a Corgi puppy who was given to her for her 18th birthday. A four-legged dog capable of stealing the show even during her honeymoon with Prince Philip: while the newlyweds got on the train to Broadlands, the ginger-colored dog jumped out in front of the royal couple and was chased and caught by the palace attendants. When Susan died in 1959, she was buried in a pet cemetery in Sandringham: “Susan, born February 20, 1944 and died January 26, 1959, has been a faithful companion of the Queen for nearly 15 years,” reads the tombstone.
But why this passion for Corgi? According to the chronicles of the royal palaces it seems that some friends of the family, in 1933, had a specimen and the then Princess Elizabeth, at the age of seven, asked for one. So the Duke of York, Elizabeth’s father, contacted a well-known breeder, Thelma Gray, who brought the family three of her puppies from her kennels at Rozavel in Surrey. They chose the one with a little bit of a tail with which she could let people know she was happy. The puppy was officially called Rozavel Golden Eagle, but for everyone it was Dookie because that’s how the staff of the kennel nicknamed it after it was learned that the Duke of York would be its owner.
Dookie, however, did not keep the promise of a calm and carefree dog with a constantly moving tail, on the contrary: he immediately became known for biting staff and visitors. A few years later, from the same kennel, Lady Jane also arrived.
To understand how much the presence of dogs in the royal family from the beginning has played a fundamental role in public opinion, just think that according to the Kennel Club there was a peak in the registrations of Pembroke Corgi in 1936 and another in 1944, the year Princess Elizabeth took Susan.
A long four-legged dynasty
The queen’s passion for Corgi and Dorgi (a cross between the Corgi Pembroke and Dachshund breeds) did not stop only with Susan, on the contrary: the monarch always turned to the breeder Thelma Gray to find a mate for her dog and thus a dynasty of 14 generations was born. All with very fun and imaginative names: Sugar, Honey, Sherry, Whishy, Bee, but also Chipper, Brandy, Berry, Cider, Candy and Vulcan.
The queen never wanted to sell them: either she kept them with her (sometimes even nine at the same time) or she gave them to trusted friends, relatives and breeders.
In 2015 the British press reported on his painful decision: to stop breeding them because he didn’t want to leave any dogs alone after his death. The last specimen, Willow, died in 2018: he had appeared with Holly in the video for the opening of the London 2012 Olympics in which the sovereign was shown alongside the 007 Daniel Craig.
The triumphal entry of Queen Elizabeth to the London 2012 Olympics with the “007” Daniel Craig
The two dogs were later portrayed with Her Majesty also in the photo shoot made for her in 2016, on the occasion of her 90th birthday, by the famous photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Dorgi Candy remained with her, nicely also appeared in a film last February: “Where do you come from?” the queen asks him and as the furry little one goes away she adds: “I know what you want from me.”
Fine meats and valets, the special treat for your dogs
Queen Elizabeth’s passion materialized in a very special treatment and in the book “Pets by royal appointment”, written by the Windsor biographer Brian Hoey and released in 2013, some “secrets” were revealed: the sovereign had a chef prepare meat prized for its animals, which were served by valets as if they were members of the royal family.
Moreover, before each dinner of his dogs, which had to take place strictly at five in the afternoon at Buckingham Palace, he personally poured the typical English “gravy” sauce on the meat served to them and only after this sort of ritual could the Corgi begin to eat. For them, never canned, but fillet of beef and chicken breast of the best quality. Not only that, according to the book, when Elisabetta had a dress prepared or fixed by a seamstress, she went around the room with a magnet looking for any fallen pins, to prevent the Corgi from getting injured on the legs. Their health has always been fundamental: often it was Elizabeth herself who treated them with homeopathic remedies and every time in the long history of her mistress someone died it became a real tragedy.
«Once she was asked how she made them mate – said the author of the book -. And she replied that she used a stone because Dachshunds have shorter legs than Corgi ». A nice anecdote, but on which one could not be ironic: every joke or joke about them has always been in fact forbidden in the palace and in the course of worldly events. When someone got an inappropriate comment from her, the queen responded in kind, losing her renowned aplomb.
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Susan and all the dogs of Queen Elizabeth, so the love story for her Corgi has become a symbol of her monarchy
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