Elizabeth II is famously fond of corgis. Over the years, the stumpy, smiley little pooches have appeared with Her Majesty in family photos, co-starred in sketches with Daniel Craig and posed with the Queen on the cover of Vanity Fair. But alas, this doggie dynasty has come to an end. As Martin Belam of the Guardian reports, the last corgi bred by the Queen has died.
Willow, who was almost 15 years old, was suffering from a cancer-related illness and was put to sleep. The dog belonged to the 14th generation of pups descended from Susan, a corgi that was gifted to the queen in 1944, on her 18th birthday. According to the Telegraph, “insiders” say the Queen was hit “extremely hard” by Willow’s death.
Elizabeth’s love affair with the breed reportedly began in 1933 when her father, Albert Frederick Arthur George (who would be crowned George VI three years later), brought home a corgi named Dookie, according to the Washington Post's William Booth. Elizabeth was 7 years old at the time. When she got Susan, a corgi of her own, some 11 years later, she loved the dog so much that it accompanied her and Prince Phillip on their honeymoon.
The Queen bred hundreds of dogs from Susan’s line. She owned more than 30 of them, and gifted the rest to friends.
Elizabeth enjoyed walking her dogs and was often photographed with a gaggle of corgis by her side. According to the Telegraph, she fed them herself, when time permitted, and mixed their meals “with a spoon and fork, from ingredients brought on a tray by a footman.”
But unlike their regal mistress, the Queen’s corgis did not always keep a stiff upper lip. Over the decades, they have nipped at the ankles of a policeman, a palace sentry, a chauffeur and the Royal Clock Winder, Booth writes in the Post. The Queen’s corgis were apparently quite fond of Meghan Markle. Prince Harry, not so much.
“I've spent the last 33 years being barked at,” Harry said in an interview after his engagement to Markle. “[Meghan] walks in, absolutely nothing.”
In 2015, British media reported that the Queen, who was 89 at the time, had stopped breeding her corgis because she does not want to leave any behind when she dies. Willow and a corgi named Holly were the last of the royal breed to survive.
Fortunately, Her Majesty is not corgi-less. She still has a corgi named Whisper, whom she adopted following the death of its owner, a gatekeeper at Sandringham, the Queen’s private country estate.
The Queen also has two other dogs, Vulcan and Candy, to keep her company. They are a mix between a dachshund and a corgi—a cross-breed that was introduced to the royal household after one of Elizabeth’s corgis mated with a dachshund belonging to her sister, Princess Margaret. The pooches are informally known as “dorgis.”