Queen 'hit extremely hard' by death of her beloved last Royal corgi

Telegraph Reporters
The Telegraph

The Queen has reportedly been hit “extremely hard” by the loss of her corgi Willow who died on Sunday - ending Her Majesty’s close association with the breed dating back eight decades.

The dog, which was 14th generation and descended from the Queen’s first dog Susan, was suffering from a cancer-related illness.

It is understood The Queen did not want Willow, who was almost 15, to suffer any further. Insiders said she was hit “extremely hard” by the loss of Willow, who had become her most devoted companion.  

As a descendant of Susan, who was an 18th birthday present when she was then Princess Elizabeth, Willow had a particularly close link with the Queen.

On her 90th birthday, when she posed for portraits with her grandchildren, she also let her dogs share the limelight. Willow was one of four dogs at the time who featured in a picture with her, taken on steps in the grounds of Windsor castle.

<span>Corgis have played a massive role in Her Majesty's life</span> <span>Credit: Rex Features/Shutterstock </span>
Corgis have played a massive role in Her Majesty's life Credit: Rex Features/Shutterstock

A Buckingham Palace source told the Daily Mail: “She has mourned every one of her corgis over the years, but she has been more upset about Willow’s death than any of them… It is probably because Willow was the last link to her parents and a pastime that goes back to her own childhood. It really does feel like the end of an era.”

It was reported that the Queen was still feeding and exercising Willow until the weekend, but the dog’s condition worsened.

A vet was then said to have been called on Sunday afternoon, when Prince Philip was able to rejoin her after nearly two weeks in hospital following a hip operation.

The Queen still has Vulcan and Candy, two dorgis - corgi-dachshund crosses, but Willow was the only dog left with a link to the Queen's original family of royal corgis.

Last year Her Majesty agreed to adopt a corgi, Whisper, after the death of his owner, a former Sandringham gamekeeper.

As a teenager, The Queen fell in love with her father's dog Dookie, a Pembrokeshire corgi, and wanted one of her own.

She was subsequently given Susan and during her reign she has owned more than 30 corgis, many of them direct descendants of her first dog.

Susan was so loved that she accompanied Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh on on their honeymoon.

<span>Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (left) with one of their corgis at Windsor Castle pictured in 1959 and Her Majesty walking her dogs in 1980 (right)</span> <span>Credit: PA/Getty </span>
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (left) with one of their corgis at Windsor Castle pictured in 1959 and Her Majesty walking her dogs in 1980 (right) Credit: PA/Getty

Her descendant Willow appeared in the 2012 James Bond sketch which the Queen recorded with Daniel Craig for the London Olympics opening ceremony.

The dog and two other corgis, Monty and Holly, greeted the secret agent, played by Daniel Craig, as he arrived at the palace to accept a mission from the Queen.

The dogs ran down the stairs, performed tummy rolls and then stood as a helicopter took off for the Olympic stadium, carrying Bond and a stunt double of the Queen.

Monty, who was 13, died a couple of months later.

Holly was put down in October 2016 after suffering from an illness, leaving Willow as the Queen's final corgi.

In 2015, the Queen decided to stop breeding Pembroke Welsh corgis over fears she might trip over and hurt herself over them. It was also reported that she didn’t want to leave any behind when she dies.

Yet during her time looking after them, she has had more than 30 corgis stemming from Susan’s puppies Sugar and Honey, who were born in 1949.

<span>Queen Elizabeth II pictured walking her dogs in 1973 with a corgi leading the way and another ushering from behind</span> <span>Credit: Alpha Press </span>
Queen Elizabeth II pictured walking her dogs in 1973 with a corgi leading the way and another ushering from behind Credit: Alpha Press

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the reports, saying it would be a private matter.

Prince Harry revealed last year how his fiancee Meghan Markle had managed to charm the Queen's dogs.

The prince said in his engagement interview: "And the corgis took to you straightaway.

"I've spent the last 33 years being barked at - this one walks in, absolutely nothing."

Describing the moment, Ms Markle said: "Just laying on my feet during tea, it was very sweet."

Queen Elizabeth II's long-standing love of corgis

The Queen is synonymous with her love of corgis.

The snappy little dogs had a penchant for nipping servants' ankles, but the Queen has always been devoted to them.

She has owned more than 30 of the breed, as well as dorgis, black Labradors and cocker spaniels.

Her first corgi, Susan, was given to her as an 18th birthday present by her parents in 1944.

The Queen had fallen in love with her father's dog Dookie, a Pembrokeshire corgi, and wanted one of her own.

Susan became the founder of the Queen's royal dog dynasty, and was even taken on honeymoon by Princess Elizabeth.

But Susan was not always well-behaved. She bit a royal clockwinder on the ankle and was also rather partial to going for servants' legs.

<span>A corgi passes between two rugby players in 2007 when The Queen greeted internationals&nbsp;</span> <span>Credit: Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty </span>
A corgi passes between two rugby players in 2007 when The Queen greeted internationals  Credit: Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty

Her grandson, Whisky, apparently tore the seat out of a Guards officer's trousers.

The Queen has looked after her own dogs as much as possible.

She now has Whisper - a corgi she adopted after the death of its owner, a Sandringham gamekeeper - and two dorgis, Vulcan and Candy.

During weekends at Windsor, the corgis went too and lived in her private apartments.

She fed them herself, whenever her busy schedule permitted. She mixed their feed with a spoon and fork, from ingredients brought on a tray by a footman.

She also enjoyed walking her corgis and they knew when it was time for their exercise.

If the Queen came in wearing a tiara, they laid glumly on the carpet; if she was in a headscarf, they knew it was time for walkies.

The Duke of York said his mother's love of her corgis has helped to keep her fit.

"She is just amazing at her age and she walks a long way, the dogs keep her active," Andrew said.

Corgis are liable to bite people's legs because their forebears rounded up sheep by snapping at their feet.

One footman at the Palace found a novel way of getting his own back.

Queen Elizabeth II profile
Queen Elizabeth II profile

He spiked the dogs' food and water with whisky and gin, then watched in amusement as the tipsy animals staggered around. But he was discovered and demoted.

At one stage, the Queen was forced to call in a dog psychiatrist when her corgis kept setting upon each other.

The worst incident was when Ranger, who belonged to the Queen Mother, killed the Queen's dorgi Chipper in 1989.

Two years later the Queen was bitten on the left hand while trying to break up a fight between six of her corgis and two of the Queen Mother's at Windsor.

She needed three stitches and her chauffeur needed a tetanus jab.

Canine psychiatrist Roger Mugford prescribed an ear-piercing rape alarm which the Queen used to break up the dog fights.

He also sent the leader of the pack, Apollo, to live with the Princess Royal.

But sometimes it was the corgis who found themselves under attack.

In 2003, as the royals were gathering for Christmas at Sandringham in Norfolk, one suffered a tragic fate.

<span>Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during their traditional summer break at Balmoral Castle. The royal couple are seen with 'Tinker', a cross between a corgi and long haired dachshund</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during their traditional summer break at Balmoral Castle. The royal couple are seen with 'Tinker', a cross between a corgi and long haired dachshund Credit: PA

Pharos - then one of the Queen's oldest corgis - was savaged by another dog and had to be put down.

The Queen was devastated at the death of one of her favourite pets.

Dottie, an English bull terrier owned by the Princess Royal, was blamed. The year before, Anne had been fined £500 when the same dog attacked two children in Windsor Great Park.

But some days later, an announcement from the Palace revealed it was a case of mistaken identity. The real killer of Pharos was Florence, another of Anne's dogs.

Pharos was buried in the Sandringham grounds, joining Susan and some of the other corgis with gravestones there.

<span>Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth II with her corgis</span> <span>Credit: Videograb </span>
Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth II with her corgis Credit: Videograb

In 2012, the Queen's remaining corgis had a starring role in the James Bond sketch the Queen recorded for the London Olympics opening ceremony.

Monty, Willow and Holly greeted the secret agent, played by Daniel Craig, as he arrived at the Palace to accept a mission from the Queen.

Monty, who was 13, died a couple of months later.

Holly was put down in October 2016 after suffering from an illness, leaving Willow, who died on Sunday, as the Queen's final corgi descended from Susan.

 

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