The Queen’s Corgis: A History in Pictures | History Hit

The Queen’s Corgis: A History in Pictures

Teet Ottin

19 Apr 2022
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip sit beside one of the royal corgis. Balmoral, 1976.
Image Credit: Anwar Hussein / Alamy Stock Photo

Queen Elizabeth II is globally revered as a cultural icon of the United Kingdom and was often associated with her longevity, colourful coats and of course her beloved corgis. Her dogs have gathered a level of fame few humans could ever achieve, and they live a life of luxury in Buckingham Palace, complete with royal quarters and meals prepared by a master chef. 

The Queen’s love for the adorable breed emerged from a young age, when her father, King George VI, brought a corgi named Dookie into the royal household. Since then, the Queen personally owned more than 30 corgis – 14 generations’ worth – during her long reign.

Here’s the heartwarming story of the Queen’s relationship with her beloved corgis, told in a series of photos.

The very first one

Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizebeth II, and her sister Princess Margaret posing with their pet dogs in the grounds of Windsor castle. Photographed in 1937.

Image Credit: D and S Photography Archives / Alamy Stock Photo

The Queen fell in love with dogs from a very young age, after she grew fond of the dogs owned by the children of the Marquess of Bath. Her first dog was named Dookie, who was a Pembroke Welsh corgi brought by her father, King George VI

The pup was originally named ‘Rozavel Golden Eagle’, but its breeder Thelma Gray and her staff began calling him ‘The Duke’, which eventually turned into ‘Dookie’. The name was also popular with the Queen’s family, who decided to keep it. 

The start of a dynasty

The Queen with her daughter, Princess Anne, the Welsh pony Greensleeves and the corgis Whisky and Sugar.

Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

The Queen got her second Pembroke Welsh corgi, named Susan, as an 18th birthday present. The bond between her and Susan was so strong that she even snuck the dog on her honeymoon in 1947. Susan eventually became the starting point of a royal corgi dynasty, since almost all other corgis and dorgis (a cross between a dachshund and a corgi) owned by the Queen descended from her. 

‘Buffer’, 5-year-old corgi, strikes a pose while he is painted on a beaker.

Image Credit: Keystone Press / Alamy Stock Photo

The Queen became a prolific breeder of corgis in the coming decades. She personally owned over 30 of them in the years following her accession to the throne in 1952. They had their own room in Buckingham Palace, with raised wicker beds that had fresh sheets daily. The royal dogs even have their very own special menu that is prepared by a master chef. 

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor joined by Sugar, one of the royal corgis.

Image Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The corgis were often omnipresent, accompanying the Queen during travel, meetings with politicians and even social as well as official gatherings. Many in the royal family received one of the dogs as a present from her. Princess Diana famously commented, ‘the Queen is always surrounded by corgis, so you get the feeling you are standing on a moving carpet.’


One of the Queen’s corgis crash lands after jumping off the steps of an aircraft. 1983.

Image Credit: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

Living with the dogs was not always been easy. There were instances of the Queen’s corgis biting members of the royal family and staff. In 1986, the Labour politician Peter Doig called for a ‘beware of the dog’ sign to be put up at Balmoral Castle after one of the dogs bit the postman. Even the Queen herself was bitten by one of the royal corgis in 1991 after trying to break up a fight between two of her dogs. 

The Queen with one of her corgis

Image Credit: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

Some of the staff in Buckingham Palace developed a particular dislike for the royal corgis, with one staff member even spiking one of the dogs’ meals with whiskey and gin. It was meant as a harmless ‘joke’, but it instead resulted in the death of the corgi. The footman was demoted, with the Queen reportedly saying, ‘I don’t ever want to see him again’.

Current times

A royal corgi owned by HM Queen Elizabeth II at Clarence House, London, England 1989.

Image Credit: David Cooper / Alamy Stock Photo

Over the years, the Queen bred 14 generations of royal corgis. But in 2015, Her Majesty decided to end the breeding of her royal corgis to make sure that none would outlive her.

The Queen encountering an old acquaintance during a visit to Northumberland, a corgi bred by the Queen and now owned by Lady Beaumont who lives in the area.

Image Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The Queen’s last full-bred corgi, Willow, died in 2018, with only one dorgi, a dachshund-corgi mix, remaining. However, this did not mean the end of corgis in the Queen’s life. Even though there will be no more offspring from the line started from her second corgi Susan almost 80 years ago, the Queen received two new corgi pups in 2021.

Teet Ottin