Queen Elizabeth was left “distraught” by the death of one of her oldest and most faithful dogs in the months before her own death, and took special steps to see that the dog’s remains were flown back to Windsor so it could be buried alongside one of its old friends, it was reported Saturday.
However she was said to be in “sparkling form,” just four days before her death, hosting an informal dinner party for some of her cousins. The report will add to the sense that her health declined dramatically and unexpectedly in a very short period of time.
The informal dinner party happened on the Sunday before her death. A source told the Sun: “It was unusual as it was very casual. No one was smartly dressed. But the queen was in sparkling form. She was very, very jolly. She was funny, joking. She was buoyant.”
The Daily Mail’s Richard Kay reports that her “dorgi” (a dachshund-corgi cross) Candy died at the ripe old age of 18 at the beginning of the queen’s summer vacation in Balmoral, Scotland. The queen headed to Scotland towards the end of July.
Kay says that the queen departed from the convention of burying dogs at the property where they expire, instead flying Candy back to Windsor and requesting the dog be buried near its long-term companion, a corgi named Vulcan.
Staff in her household were hugely surprised by the move, and “saw it as a sign that the queen had every intention of being back in Windsor at the end of the holiday to supervise the placing of the headstone herself,” Kay says.
The Daily Mail adds that, in her last weeks, she had become mildly obsessed by a famously hot BBC weatherman named Tomasz Schafernaker, with a source saying: “It was like a bit of a crush; she always wanted to watch the forecasts when he was on. She was amused hearing the cadences when his name was read out but she loved watching him, too.”
When it was suggested that she might not perform the swearing in of new Prime Minister Liz Truss, the Sun says, the queen apparently retorted, “Of course I have to, it’s my job.”
The Mail also quotes a senior Scottish churchman, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, who had lunch with her on Sunday, four days before her death.
He said: “She was talking about her past, her love for Balmoral, her father, her mother, Prince Philip, horses, very much engaged with what was happening in the church and what was happening in the nation, too…. when I left her on Sunday she was very positive, and I’m just finding it very hard to believe that in those few days things had changed so much.”
The Mail adds that just two days before her death, on Tuesday, she spoke to her racehorse trainer Clive Cox about her horse Love Affairs.
Cox said: “We talked about the filly, how the race might pan out, how another horse of hers was doing in my stable and about a couple of other things. She was as sharp as a tack.”