For Queen Elizabeth II, her passion for corgis dates all the way back to her childhood.
The canine breed was synonymous with the monarch, who died at age 96 on Thursday, and the partnership between her and her beloved dogs began long before she met and married Prince Philip or even became queen.
And while dogs have been a part of the royal family since at least the days of Queen Victoria, per Vanity Fair, the queen’s bond with corgis was something completely singular.
In fact, the royal loved her dogs so much that she created her own hybrid breed with her sister Princess Margaret in the 1970s called the “dorgi” — a cross between a dachshund and a corgi.
Her obsession with the cattle-herding dog dates back to 1933 when the then-7-year-old princess specifically requested a Pembroke Welsh corgi after meeting her friend’s pet.
It’s not known why exactly the young princess was so drawn to the breed, although royal family insiders have told the press that she enjoyed them because of their energy and spirit.
The lively dogs were mainly bred in Wales at the time and were still fairly uncommon in England, but her father, King George VI — who was a dog lover himself — found a breeder for the puppy.
The puppy, named Dookie, became a member of the royal family. His arrival marked the beginning of a long relationship between Princess Elizabeth and corgis.
Dookie was the first of 30 corgis and dorgis the monarch would go on to own during her lifetime and was later joined by another corgi named Jane, who was frequently photographed with the young princess.
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On her 18th birthday in 1944, the queen was given a Pembroke Welsh corgi puppy named Susan, who would become the royal’s faithful companion through some of her life’s biggest milestones. Susan accompanied the royal for her coronation, wedding and even on her honeymoon with Prince Philip.
The queen went on to breed Susan with a dog called Rozavel Lucky Strike, delivering her first litter in 1949. Her offspring began the royal family’s “dog dynasty” — most of the dogs the royal has owned since are descendants of her beloved Susan, who died in 1959 at almost 15.
The queen stopped breeding dogs as she reached her 90s, but 14 generations of Susan’s descendants lived with the queen until her last corgi Willow died in 2015. According to reports, the queen was hit particularly hard by Willow’s death, as it was the end of Susan’s lineage.
In a 2013 book called “Royal Pets by Appointment” by Brian Hoey, it was revealed that the queen’s corgis were treated just as preciously as you’d expect.
Hoey wrote that the dogs were served dinner at 5 pm every night, dining on chef-made meals, such as filet steak and chicken breast, that were fit for a king or queen.
The queen reportedly fed the dogs herself on occasion, with the book’s author saying she sometimes lovingly drizzled gravy over their food for them.
The dogs were seen originally to have been good for the queen’s image, with several people noting it made her look “warmer” to the public to be accompanied by animals. They were also seen as a way for her to break the ice when she met new people.
Members of the royal family credited the dogs for keeping the monarch happy and calm as she battled tragedies during her life. It was also reported that she tried to walk and feed her dogs herself whenever she could.
According to the Express, when feeling overwhelmed, the queen coped by reaching down to feed her corgis under the table. When Prince Philip died in April 2021, she reportedly turned to her faithful companions for comfort and was even given two new corgi puppies to help her grieve.
Sadly, one of the pups, Fergus, died just a month after her husband did. It’s unclear why the 5-month-old pup passed away, with some publications reporting the puppy had been unwell for several months before he died.
The queen leaves behind four dogs, including two corgis, one dorgi named Candy and a cocker spaniel called Lissy.
No doubt the pups are grieving her loss too. As Her Royal Highness once said: “My corgis are family.”