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The 21st of April marks the 94th birthday of the English monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. Her father ascended the throne on the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII in 1936, from which time she was the heir. Throughout the years, the corgi is as synonymous with the Queen as Buckingham Palace itself. And throughout her 63-year reign, Her Majesty is believed to have kept over 30 Pembrokeshire Welsh corgis in total. In fact, Elizabeth II owned at least one corgi at any given time between the years 1933-2018. Last month there were even new reports that the Queen has welcomed a pair of corgi puppies into the pack! Queen Elizabeth previously announced that she had brought an end to her breeding program in 2015, having said "she doesn’t want to leave any behind." So, what started her love for the breed in the first place?
A young Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret via Getty Images
The Queen first fell in love with the breed back in 1933 when her father, King George VI, brought home a corgi for Elizabeth and Margaret. The sisters named their new dog Dookie and were besotted with him. 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. The Queen's second corgi, Susan, was given to her as a gift to celebrate her 18th birthday in 1944. Susan accompanied Elizabeth on her honeymoon in 1947. All of her future corgis were then descended from Susan through a special breeding programme. Her Majesty even went on to create the 'dorgi', after cross breeding her dog Tiny with Margaret's Dachshund, Pipkin in 1971. The Queen's final purebred corgi, Willow, died in April of 2018, 3 years after she announced the end of her breeding programme. The Queen's only remaining dog was a dorgi named Candy, before she was joined by another dorgi puppy named Fergus and a corgi puppy named Muick in 2021. The deceased 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.
A 90th birthday photograph of Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle with her dogs (clockwise from left) Willow, Vulcan, Holly and Candy. Image by Annie Leibovitz via AP/Files
When it comes to naming her four-legged companions, Her Majesty has opted for rather traditional names ranging from Monty, Heather and Emma. But she has also chosen some more unique names for her dogs including Sugar, Candy, Honey, Willow, Spick and Span. Other names reveal a lot about the Queen’s interests, as some corgis gained the titles Whisky, Sherry and Cider. The dogs are given a life of luxury, naturally. They have their own gourmet chef who serves up feasts of beef and rabbit. The dogs also sleep in a special ‘corgi room’ where their baskets are elevated from the floor to avoid any drafts. The royal corgis are known all across the world. The corgis have had numerous items dedicated to them, in particular being the subject of many statues and works of art. Queen Elizabeth II’s crown coin issued during her Golden Jubilee year, depicts the Queen with a corgi, truly cementing her love for the breed.