In photos of the British royal family throughout the last century or so, corgis can often be spotted—thanks to Queen Elizabeth's love of the breed. Over her decades on the throne, the Queen owned an estimated 30 corgis and dorgis (daschund and corgi mixes), and the corgi has become something of a symbol of her reign.
On the one year anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's death, Sarah Ferguson shared an update on the Queen's corgis (Ferguson and her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, inherited them), writing on Instagram, "As we mourn a year on, we also celebrate the wonderful times we shared with Her Late Majesty the Queen. She entrusted me with the care of her corgis Sandy and Muick and I am delighted to say they are thriving."
Here, everything you need to know about the royal corgis.
Her Family's Corgis
Queen Elizabeth's love of corgis is said to have started with a British nobleman named Thomas Henry Thynne (later the the 5th Marquess of Bath). Thynne's children had a pair of corgis as pets, and when young Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret visited their home, the young royals reportedly fell in love with the dogs.
Soon after, the princesses' parents brought home Dookie, a corgi, in 1933. Dookie holds the honor of being the first of many Welsh Corgis owned by the royal family. The Queen Mother reportedly picked Dookie out because of his slightly longer tail, remarking, "so that we can see whether he is pleased or not."
According to the Royal Collection Trust, "Dookie, officially named Rozavel Golden Eagle, acquired his nickname when he was sent away to be trained. The staff, aware that the dog was destined for the household of the Duke of York, began to refer to him as Dookie. When the dog returned to his new family it became clear that he only responded to his new nickname, so it stayed with him."
Soon, another corgi named Jane joined the family. In a 1937 article, a reporter detailed: "the King and Queen and their children are all extremely fond of dogs, and much of the Princesses' leisure is taken up with their pets. The favourites are the two Welsh corgis, who answer to the names of Dookie and Jane. It is the children's own job to see that they are brushed and exercised." The other royal dogs at the time included golden labradors, a Tibetan Mastiff, a golden retriever, and a cocker spaniel.
In 1940, with the start of World War II, Elizabeth and Margaret were evacuated to Windsor Castle, and their dogs went with them, to keep them company. At this point, Dookie had died, but Jane had a puppy named Crackers. Sadly, Jane died just a few years later, in 1944, when she was accidentally run over by a car.
A Dog of Her Own
In 1944, for her 18th birthday gift, Princess Elizabeth received her very own corgi, named Susan. Susan was a Pembroke Corgi, and was a constant companion for Elizabeth for many years. The dog even accompanied Elizabeth and Philip on their honeymoon.
One year after Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Charles, Susan, too, became a mother: the dog had a pair of puppies, Sugar and Honey. Technically, Sugar was the nursery pet of Prince Charles and Princess Anne, and Honey belonged to the Queen's mother.
After a long and happy life, Susan died at Sandringham in January 1959, and was buried on the property in Queen Victoria's pet cemetery. The initial gravestone inscription read "Susan / died 26 Jan 1959 / for 15 years the faithful companion of the Queen," until the Queen realized Susan's birthdate was incorrect, so it was adjusted to read "for almost 15 years."
The Life of the Royal Corgis
The Queen once said "my corgis are family" and their palace life highlights this. Reportedly, in Buckingham Palace, the corgis slept in wicker baskets in a "corgi room," and dined on steak and chicken. They also traveled with the Queen to her various homes.
"The dogs sleep in the home with the royal family, and they certainly are well-fed," royal dog trainer Dr. Roger Mugford told Town & Country in 2015. "The context and content of their meals is very important to Her Majesty, who tailors what they are fed to their age, clinical needs, and so on. The Queen is a great believer in homeopathy and herbal medicines, and each dog has a unique menu. Eight exotic porcelain bowls are carried in by a butler, each for a particular dog. Eight dogs are arranged in a semi-circle to sit and wait to be given their meal bowls. It's all disciplined and well-organized by Her Majesty; few other owners can exert such control over their dogs to 'wait' for their food in turn."
The End of an Era
In 2012, the Queen decided to stop breeding corgis. As Monty Roberts, an informal advisor to the Queen on dog training, recalled to Vanity Fair, "she didn’t want to have any more young dogs. She didn’t want to leave any young dog behind. She wanted to put an end to it." In April 2018, her corgi named Willow died—the last of Susan's descendants.
Her reason to stop breeding corgis could also be due to the fact that none of the Queen's children took to corgis the way their mother did, though the Windsors are famously animal—and even dog!—lovers.
"They’re barking all the time," Prince William said of his grandmother's corgis. "I don’t know how she copes with it." (William and Kate Middleton have a black cocker spaniel.)
Prince Harry echoed their barking tendencies in his 2017 engagement interview with Meghan Markle. In the interview, Harry said to Meghan, "The corgis took to you straight away!" He added, "I've spent the last 33 years being barked at, and this one walks in, absolutely nothing." (Like her grandmother-in-law, Meghan Markle loves dogs. But she doesn't have corgis; Meghan is a proud rescue dog owner.)
The Queen's Corgis During the Pandemic
in February 2021, her son, Prince Andrew, and her granddaughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, gifted her two new puppies—Muick, a corgi, and Fergus, a dorgi—to keep her company while Prince Philip was in the hospitalized. Unfortunately, Fergus passed away in May 2021. Yet in June, the Queen got another corgi, Sandy, to keep Muick company.
Angela Kelly, Queen Elizabeth's trusted confidant, revealed these dogs were a "godsend" to the Queen during the pandemic. "I was worried they would get under The Queen's feet, but they have turned out to be a godsend. They are beautiful and great fun and The Queen often takes long walks with them in Home Park," Kelly wrote.
The Queen's Corgis After Her Death
The Queen's final two corgis, Muick and Sandy, went to her son, Prince Andrew, and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, following her death. Though Andrew and Ferguson are divorced, they still live together at Windsor. "The Duchess bonded with Her Majesty over dog walking and riding horses and even after her divorce, she would continue her great friendship with Her Majesty, by walking the dogs in Frogmore and chatting," a source close to Prince Andrew told The Telegraph.
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