Royal familys love of pets from Corgis to Jack Russells explained
With an exclusive menu prepared by chefs and served by footmen on a silver tray, Queen Elizabeth’s pampered pooches dined every day on freshly cooked meat, vegetables, rice and a special gravy, said to be made from Her Majesty’s own recipe.
The late Queen described her dogs as her “family”, and over the course of her life she owned more than 30 corgis.
Diana, Princess of Wales, once referred to the monarch’s dogs as a “moving carpet” that would accompany her to meetings with world leaders and prime ministers.
Mealtimes formed a major part of the animals’ day and former royal chef Darren McGrady recalls, “The Queen’s footman would come down to the kitchen at around two or three in the afternoon and take the dog food upstairs to feed the royal corgis. They each had their own bowl.”
The Queen would then line the dogs up and ladle their food into their dishes one by one, and she would also drop them scraps of scones during afternoon tea. As well as enjoying five-star dining, the dogs had their own bedroom where they slept in raised wicker beds – complete with fresh sheets every day.
Queen Elizabeth was given her first corgi, Susan, on her 18th birthday and the pet even accompanied her and Prince Philip on honeymoon.
Many of the monarch’s future dogs were directly descended from Susan. She also bred dorgis, a cross between a corgi and dachshund.
“One of the many touching things about the Queen’s later life is that she stopped breeding the dogs a few years before she died because she didn’t want them to outlive her,” says Michelle Thole, co-host of the Keeping Up With The Windsors podcast. “That’s how much she loved them.”
But the corgis were occasionally badly behaved and nipped Palace guests. “They’re cattle dogs, so they bite,” the Queen once explained. “They chase people.”
In 2007, Queen Elizabeth owned five corgis – Monty, Emma, Linnet, Willow and Holly – five cocker spaniels named Bisto, Oxo, Flash, Spick and Span and four dorgis called Cider, Berry, Vulcan and Candy.
Monty, Willow and Holly starred with her and actor Daniel Craig in the James Bond sketch for the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012. Willow, the last surviving corgi bred by the Queen, died in 2018, leaving her heartbroken.
The Duke of York gave his mother a corgi called Muick and dorgi Fergus in 2021. Fergus died months later and Andrew gave her another corgi named Sandy. It is said that Muick and Sandy were by the Queen’s side when she died last September in Balmoral, and they were seen in the courtyard of Windsor Castle during her funeral.
After the Queen’s death, Sarah, Duchess of York, adopted Muick and Sandy, taking her total number of dogs to seven, as she and Andrew already owned five Norfolk terriers.
During her reign, the late Queen also received gifts of exotic animals, including a crocodile, pygmy hippopotamuses, a sloth and black jaguars, which were kept at London and Whipsnade zoos. She was also given horses, which she adored – although dogs are the firm royal favourites.
“The family’s affection for dogs partly stems from the hunting days, where they’d use dogs to pick up the pheasants,” says Michelle. “But they also just love them as pets.”
King Charles and Queen Camilla have two Jack Russell terriers, Bluebell and Beth, adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. In April 2020, Beth and Bluebell appeared in a new portrait of the couple as they marked their 15th wedding anniversary and they were even represented in the King’s Coronation.
“Camilla had images of Bluebell and Beth embroidered on her coronation dress, which was a wonderful touch and showed how much they mean to her,” says Michelle. The dogs are also featured in a new panel of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which charts 420 million years of history on 160 panels.
Camilla also wrote an introduction to the 2022 book Top Dogs: A British Love Affair by Georgina Montagu, saying of her pets, “They are both colourful characters – and now I cannot imagine my life, my home or my sofas without them.”
Another treasured royal dog was Lupo, given to the Prince and Princess of Wales by Kate’s brother James Middleton in 2012. The cocker spaniel was inseparable from the family until his death in November 2020. Announcing the news on social media, the couple wrote, “Very sadly last weekend our dear dog, Lupo, passed away. He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much. W & C.”
Before Lupo’s death, James had given them a new black cocker spaniel, Orla. The pet featured in the photo to mark Princess Charlotte’s seventh birthday and is often seen in family snaps.
Emily Ferguson, digital royal editor of the Daily Express suggests that having an animal to care for has many benefits for the young royals. “James himself has spoken about how his dogs have helped his mental health, and that may have influenced Kate and William, because there’s companionship there for the children. It can be so grounding to have a dog.”
James also keeps bees and inspired Kate to do the same. A photo released on World Bee Day in May shows her tending a hive at home.
Michelle adds, “On other occasions, Kate has been seen holding a tarantula and a snake. She’s not afraid, she’s just very curious.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are also keen for their children Archie and Lilibet to grow up with pets. When Meghan moved to the UK, she brought her beagle, Guy, with her.
In 2018, the couple adopted a black labrador called Pula. After moving to California, they adopted a seven-year-old rescue beagle, Mamma Mia.
“We all need a dog that keeps us calm,” Prince Harry said last year. “I’ve got three, so we basically have five children. They charge around chasing squirrels and causing all sorts of problems to us every single day.
"But they are also emotional support dogs, 100% – when they’re behaving.”
Prince Edward and Sophie share their home with two dogs – a black labrador and cocker spaniel – while Princess Anne has raised English bull terriers for decades.
Her daughter Zara and husband Mike Tindall are often seen at equestrian events with their dogs –a boxer named Sway and two black labradors called Storm and Pepper.
Their three children, Mia, Lena and Lucas, appear very attached to them too, and speaking in 2015 when Pepper was just a puppy, Zara said, “I expect when my daughter, Mia, grows up she will think the puppy was named after her favourite cartoon character, Peppa Pig.”
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