Paul O’Grady once tried to convince Queen Elizabeth II to adopt a rescue corgi

The late Paul O’Grady once attempted to persuade Queen Elizabeth II to adopt her own rescue corgi when she visited Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, it has been revealed.

Ali Taylor, a friend of O’Grady and head of behaviour at the animal charity, said that the actor comedian had such a passion for rescue dogs that he tried to get the late monarch to take one home to Buckingham Palace with her.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Taylor said: “Paul had a close relationship with the late Queen over their love for dogs.

“When she came to Battersea he was trying hard to persuade her to take a corgi.”

The Queen was known for her love of the breed, having owned more than 30 corgis throughout her life. When she died in September 2022, she left behind two corgis, Muick and Sandy, who were taken on by the Duke and Duchess of York.

O’Grady died unexpectedly on Tuesday (28 March) at the age of 67 and has been remembered fondly by Battersea, where he was an ambassador.

Taylor added that the star, who was beloved for his drag persona Lily Savage, also had a “brilliant relationship with Camilla”, who owns two Jack Russells from Battersea.

The Queen Consort paid a touching tribute to O’Grady as she worked closely with him in their support of the charity. She once appeared in an episode of his hit show, For The Love of Dogs, which has been praised for raising awareness of the plight of rescue dogs in shelters.

The Palace said in a statement: “Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul O’Grady, who worked closely with Her Majesty in support of Battersea, providing lots of laughter and many waggy-tailed memories.”

Camilla with Paul O’Grady in 2022 (Getty Images)
Camilla with Paul O’Grady in 2022 (Getty Images)

Battersea said it saw donations to its “tribute fund” in memory of O’Grady pass £100,000 on Saturday (1 April) as the public gave generously to his favourite cause.

Peter Laurie, chief executive of the charity, said in a statement to the PA news agency that it will look for “the best way to pay tribute to our wonderful friend and ambassador” in the coming weeks.

“We have been overwhelmed and touched by the countless letters, calls, emails and messages of support along with the generous donations made by kind members of the public this week,” he continued.

“We will be looking to find a suitably fitting way to remember the profound impact Paul had at Battersea and the rescue animal sector, something that will support the animals that Paul loved so much and that would make him proud.”

Photo issued by Boom Radio of Paul O’Grady and his dog Conchita (PA)
Photo issued by Boom Radio of Paul O’Grady and his dog Conchita (PA)

O’Grady received a special recognition award at the 2018 National Television Awards for the impact For The Love of Dogs had on the nation.

He took home six of his own rescue dogs from Battersea, including Chihuahua-Jack Russell cross Eddie, shih-tzu Boycie, Maltese Conchita, mongrels Arfur and Nancy, and wire-haired dachshund Sausage.

Announcing his death, O’Grady’s husband Andre Portasio said: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening. We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.

“He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion. I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.”