The Queen had more than 30 corgis over her 70-year reign, but stopped breeding them years ago so they wouldn’t outlive her
Queen Elizabeth II had dozens of royal corgis throughout her historic 70-year reign, which ended Thursday with her death at age 96.
The Queen loved corgis since she was a young girl. In 1933, 7-year-old Elizabeth asked for a corgi after visiting friends who had one, the BBC reported. Her father, who would later be crowned King George VI, then brought home her first corgi puppy, named Dookie.
But the line of royal corgis that would serve as companions to the Queen for seven decades all started with Susan, the Pembroke Welsh corgi that the Queen received as a gift on her 18th birthday in 1944. Susan even crashed Princess Elizabeth’s honeymoon a few years later after she married Prince Philip, and was still by her side when she ascended to the throne at age 25 in 1952.
“I had always dreaded losing her,” the Queen wrote following Susan’s death in 1959, according to the BBC, “but I am ever so thankful that her suffering was so mercifully short.”
A detailed tree of Susan’s lineage compiled by the BBC named nearly 60 corgis and five dorgis that descended from the dog.
The royal family did not discuss many details about the dogs as it was considered a private matter, but they often appeared in photographs and made cameos in videos. The Queen posed alongside four of her dogs for a Vanity Fair cover story in 2016.
Corgis also appeared in a video that depicted the Queen heading to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London with James Bond, depicted by actor Daniel Craig. The corgis can be seen walking at the feet of the Queen and Craig through the regal halls of Buckingham Palace.
The Queen was devastated by the death of Willow, the last of the long line of corgis: “She has mourned every one of her corgis over the years, but she has been more upset about Willow’s death than any of them. … It is probably because Willow was the last link to her parents and a pastime that goes back to her own childhood. It really does feel like the end of an era,” a source close to Buckingham Palace told the Daily Mail at the time.
The Express reported in 2015 that the Queen had quietly stopped breeding corgis or replacing her dogs when they died. The outlet said she had become concerned about potentially tripping over the dogs, which were frequently spotted at her feet.
But she may have had deeper reasoning, as well. In 2015, Monty Roberts, a horse trainer who advised Queen Elizabeth, told Vanity Fair that she stopped breeding the corgis because “she didn’t want to leave any young dog behind” when she died.
The last corgi personally owned by the Queen, Willow, died in 2018 just days before the Queen’s 92nd birthday. Willow, who was nearly 15, was put down to prevent further suffering from an illness related to cancer. Willow gained attention after being one of the dogs who appeared in the James Bond Olympics sketch.
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