The Queen's Corgis

The Queen's Corgis

Queen Elizabeth II has shared her life with a long lineage of Corgis. Here's a royal love story involving Her Majesty's closest canine subjects.

June 9, 2019 By Violaine Charest-Sigouin

In a scene from the Netflix series The Crown, a youthful Queen Elizabeth II confides in Jackie Kennedy, as she strokes a litter of Corgis. The popular show has allowed the whole world to discover the Queen of the United Kingdom in an entirely new light and has also had a tremendous impact on the popularity of the Queen's favourite canine breed. According to the Kennel Club, the UK's largest organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of dogs, sales of Corgis have jumped by 22% since the second series of The Crown was aired.

It was King George VI and his wife who gave Elizabeth her first Corgi on her 18th birthday. “Susan” and the young Royal were soon inseparable. In 1947, Susan even accompanied the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Elizabeth on their honeymoon; as the newlyweds crossed London, waving to the crowds from their horse-drawn carriage, Susan was at their side, comfortably tucked away in a blanket.

During the 1950s, Queen Elizabeth's enthusiasm for breeding Corgis helped the breed become one of the most popular in Great Britain. At Windsor Castle, her dogs were the responsibility of Nancy Fenwick, the wife of the Queen's gamekeeper. Fenwick trained the dogs to climb up and down stairs so that they'd have no difficulty following their mistress onto airplanes during her numerous trips. The Corgis were fed stew made from hares hunted on the royal grounds and Nancy Fenwick was apparently the only royal staff member to enjoy 24-hour access to the Queen.

“The Corgis are part of my family,” Queen Elizabeth once confided. During her long life she has had more than 30 of them—all descended from Susan. In the spring of 2018, Willow, a member of the 14th and “final” generation died at the age of 15. He was buried alongside Susan (and all the other Corgis) at the dog cemetery that Queen Victoria built at Sandringham in Norfolk. Susan's tombstone reads: “The faithful companion of the Queen for more than 16 years.”

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