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
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 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.
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.
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.’
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.
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’.
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’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.