Royal corgis were the Pembroke Welsh Corgi dogs owned by Queen Elizabeth II and her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Fond of corgis since she was a small child, Elizabeth II has owned more than 30 corgis since she became Queen of the Commonwealth realms in 1952.
Elizabeth II owned at least one Corgi at any given time between the years 1933-2018.
In 2007, Elizabeth II had five corgis: Monty, Emma, Linnet, Willow, and Holly; five cocker spaniels: Bisto, Oxo, Flash, Spick, and Span; and four dorgis (dachshund-corgi crossbreeds): Cider, Berry, Vulcan, and Candy. Monty, Willow, and Holly appeared in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony when, in a sketch, Daniel Craig (in character as James Bond) arrived at Buckingham Palace to escort the Queen to the event. Monty had previously belonged to the Queen Mother, and died in September 2012. It was reported in 2015 that the Queen stopped breeding corgis so as not to leave any behind when she died. Her final corgi, Willow, died in April of 2018. Two extant dorgis, Vulcan and Candy, remain.
The royal corgis were globally publicized (such as in the cover photo and feature article of Vanity Fair's Summer 2016 edition). Leaving a lasting legacy after death, they have been depicted and immortalized in various artwork, such as statues, professional photographs, and paintings. For instance, the crown coin commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II depicts the Queen with a corgi. As another example, Elizabeth II is portrayed by Helen Mirren as owning several Corgis during 1997, in the 2006 film The Queen.
The Queen has been very fond of corgis since she was a small child, having fallen in love with the corgis owned by the children of the Marquess of Bath. King George VI brought home Dookie in 1933. A photograph from George VI's photo album shows a ten-year-old Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) with Dookie at Balmoral. Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret would feed Dookie by hand from a dish held by a footman. The other early favorite corgi during the same time was Jane.
Elizabeth II's mother, at that time Queen Elizabeth, introduced a disciplined regimen for the dogs; each was to have its own wicker basket, raised above the floor to avoid drafts. Meals were served for each dog in its own dish, the diet approved by veterinary experts with no tidbits from the royal table. A proprietary brand of meat dog biscuits was served in the morning, while the late afternoon meal consisted of dog meal with gravy. Extra biscuits were handed out for celebrations and rewards.
Crackers (24 December 1939, Windsor – November, 1953) was one of the Queen Mother's corgis, and nearly a constant companion; he retired with the Queen Mother to the Castle of Mey in Scotland. In 1944, Elizabeth was given Susan as a gift on her 18th birthday. Susan accompanied Elizabeth on her honeymoon in 1947. The corgis owned by the Queen are descended from Susan. Rozavel Sue, daughter of Rozavel Lucky Strike, an international champion, was one of the Queen's corgis in the early 1950s.
The Queen has owned over thirty corgis since her accession in 1952.
Sugar was the nursery pet of Prince Charles and Princess Anne. In 1955, her dogs, Whisky and Sherry, were surprise Christmas gifts from the Queen to the Prince and Princess. Pictured with the royal family, the corgi Sugar made the cover of The Australian Women's Weekly on 10 June 1959. Sugar's twin, Honey, belonged to the Queen Mother; Honey took midday runs with Johnny and Pippin, Princess Margaret's corgis, while the Princess lived in Buckingham Palace. Heather was born in 1962 and became one of the Queen's favourites. Heather was the mother of Tiny, Bushy, and Foxy; Foxy gave birth to Brush in 1969.
The corgis enjoyed a privileged life in Buckingham Palace. They resided in bespoke room devoted to their habitation, known as the Corgi Room, and slept in elevated wicker baskets. The Queen tended to the corgis in her kennel herself. She also chose the sires of litters that were bred in her kennel. The corgis had an extensive menu at the palace which included fresh rabbit and beef, served by a gourmet chef. At Christmas, the Queen made stockings for pets full of toys and delicacies such as biscuits. In 1999, one of Queen Elizabeth's royal footmen was demoted from Buckingham Palace for his "party trick of pouring booze into the corgis' food and water" and watching them "staggering about" with relish.
In 2007, the Queen was noted to have five corgis, Monty, Emma, Linnet, Willow, and Holly; five cocker spaniels, Bisto, Oxo, Flash, Spick, and Span; and four "dorgis" (dachshund-corgi crossbreeds), Cider, Berry, Vulcan, and Candy. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II's corgis Monty, Willow, and Holly appeared during the brief James Bond sketch when Daniel Craig arrived at Buckingham Palace for a mission to take the queen to the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Monty, who had previously belonged to the Queen Mother, and one of her "Dorgis" died in September 2012. Monty had been named for the horse whisperer and friend of the queen, Monty Roberts. It was reported in July 2015 that the Queen has stopped breeding corgis as she does not wish any to survive her in the event of her death. Monty Roberts had urged Elizabeth to breed more corgis in 2012 but she had told him that she "didn't want to leave any young dog behind" and wanted to put an end to the practice.
As of April 2018, with the death of Willow, the Queen no longer has any full-bred corgis. Only two dorgis, Vulcan and Candy, are still alive.
The dogs have traditionally been buried at the royal residence, Sandringham estate in Norfolk, at which they died. The graveyard was first used by Queen Victoria when her Collie, Noble, died in 1887.
On several occasions, the Queen or her staff have been injured by the corgis. In 1954, the Royal Clockwinder, Leonard Hubbard, was bitten by Susan upon entering the nursery at the Royal Lodge, Windsor. Later in the same year, one of the Queen Mother's corgis bit a policeman on guard duty in London.
In 1968, Peter Doig called for the royal staff to put up a "Beware of the dog" sign at Balmoral after one of the corgis bit the postman. In February 1989, it was reported that the royal family had hired an animal psychologist to tame the dogs after they developed a habit of nipping them and the staff. "And in 1989, the Queen Mother’s dog, Ranger, led a pack of corgis that attacked and killed the Queen’s beloved dorgi, Chipper." In March 1991, the Queen was bitten after trying to break up a fight between ten or so of her corgis. She had to have three stitches to her left hand. John Collins, the Queen Mother's chauffeur, had to have a tetanus injection after he also tried to intervene. In 2003, Pharos, a tenth-generation offspring of Susan, was put down after being mauled by Princess Anne's English bull terrier Dottie. Anne arrived at Sandringham to visit her mother for Christmas and the corgis rushed out of the front door as they arrived. It was reported that "Dottie went for Pharos, savaging the corgi's hind legs and breaking one in three places."
The royal corgis are known all across the world and are closely associated with the Queen. The corgis have had numerous items dedicated to them, in particular being the subject of many statues and works of art. Because of the Queen's fondness for the Welsh Corgi, an increased number of corgis were exhibited in the 1954 West Australian Canine Association's Royal Show. Queen Elizabeth II’s crown coin KM# 1135, made of copper nickel of size 33 mm, issued during her Golden Jubilee year, shows the Queen with a corgi. Cartoonist Carl Giles included the corgis in every cartoon he drew of the Queen after 1962.
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