New Statue Honors Elizabeth II—and Her Beloved Corgis

The seven-foot-tall bronze monument is billed as the “first permanent memorial” to the late queen

Bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth and corgis
The statue was unveiled on what would have been Elizabeth's 98th birthday. Carl Court / Getty Images

It’s no secret that Elizabeth II loved her corgis. Wherever she went, the short-legged dogs followed, a sight Princess Diana once described as a “moving carpet.”

Now, the late queen’s relationship with her dogs has been immortalized in bronze: A seven-foot-tall statue of Elizabeth and her dogs, created by London-based sculptor Hywel Pratley, was unveiled Sunday on what would’ve been her 98th birthday. The monarch, who reigned for more than 70 years, died in September 2022 at age 96.

The new monument is located on a lush, grassy area outside the library in Oakham, England, a small town about 100 miles north of London.

Various dignitaries attended the unveiling ceremony. But perhaps more importantly, more than 40 corgis from the Welsh Corgi League also showed up to the event and then joined a parade to Oakham Castle, reports Tatler’s Ben Jureidini.

The piece was commissioned by Sarah Furness, the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland (Oakham is part of Rutland County). It cost £125,000 (approximately $155,000) and was funded primarily by donations, per BBC News’ Samantha Noble.

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The Rutland County Council described the piece as “the first permanent memorial” to Britain’s “much-loved and longest reigning monarch.”

The work depicts Elizabeth standing tall while wearing a state robe and a crown. A bronze corgi sits at her feet, nestled against the folds of her gown. The statue of the queen rests atop a pedestal made of local Ancaster limestone, which features two additional bronze corgis—one with its front paws on the pedestal, and the other standing on all fours.

The dogs are meant to be “a metaphor for the security and safety the nation somehow felt during the Elizabethan era,” Pratley tells Tatler.

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Pratley started working on the project in January 2023. Though his brief was simple, the artist wanted to achieve nothing less than perfection for the project. He spent four months sculpting the queen and her corgis—and used 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds) of clay in the process. Once satisfied with the clay maquettes, he made silicone and fiberglass molds. Finally, he spent four months casting the statues in bronze, per Tatler.

As for nailing the queen’s look, Pratley studied the countless photos captured during her long reign.

“Her great beauty was in her young to early middle age, round about 40, when she had had some children and was at the height of her power,” he tells BBC News’ Dan Martin, Jo Hollis and Jeremy Ball.

He wanted the finished piece to express a “maternal” feeling, and he decided to incorporate the dogs to “tap into the queen’s humanity,” he tells BBC News. He even had a few real corgis come into his studio and pose for him, according to a post on Instagram.

“We've designed it with a bench you can sit on, and there’s a corgi you can pat,” he adds. “I do think it’s inevitably going to be a statue that encourages selfies.”

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Pratley’s statue is indicative of a sea change in how Britain’s monarchs are depicted. Unlike the “stern statues of Queen Victoria found across Britain,” the new and forthcoming depictions of Elizabeth present the queen as “warm and approachable,” writes the New York Times’ Alex Marshall.

Several other communities, including Newcastle-under-Lyme and Test Valley, are also planning to unveil Elizabeth statues in the near future. Additionally, a committee is working on a national memorial to the queen.

Pembroke Welsh corgis were originally bred in Wales to help herd cattle, as their short stature helps them avoid being kicked by cows.

Elizabeth first fell in love with the breed when she was just 7 years old, then still a princess. That year, her father, George VI, gave her a corgi named Dookie as a gift. Later, on her 18th birthday, she was given another corgi named Susan. Elizabeth loved Susan so much that she even brought the dog on her honeymoon with Prince Philip.

Throughout her lifetime, the queen owned more than 30 dogs—some corgis and some “dorgis,” a cross between a dachshund and a corgi.

At the time of her death, she had at least three pups: a pair of corgis named Muick and Sandy, and a cocker spaniel named Lissy. Her dorgi, named Candy, reportedly died a few weeks before the queen’s death, though there are conflicting accounts of Candy’s fate.

The corgis went to live with Elizabeth’s son, Prince Andrew, and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. It’s unclear what happened to Lissy.

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