Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered for many things, among them her devotion to service and love of country.
But long before she became Britain’s monarch, Elizabeth had already displayed a different devotion and love — for animals.
The late royal, who died Sept. 8 at the age of 96, had a passion for horses and dogs which began when she was a child.
Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, brought the first of many corgis into the family in 1933.
That first dog, named Dookie, soon had a companion named Jane, and from there a long line of royal dogs began, as did the future queen's fondness for the breed.
When Elizabeth turned 18, she was given her own corgi, her beloved Susan, and nearly all of her dogs after that point were directly descended from Susan — even those of another breed Elizabeth had a role in creating.
Along with her corgis, the queen had several dorgis, which she reportedly engineered many years ago, according to Vanity Fair, by breeding one of her corgis with a dachshund belonging to her late sister, Princess Margaret.
Her affection for the dogs was great, and only seemed matched by the love she held for horses.
According to an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald in 1937, “(King George VI) has always been anxious that Princess Elizabeth shall be a good horse-woman. On her third birthday she was given a little Shetland pony, Daisy, with whom she had made friends in Scotland.”
Throughout her life, Elizabeth showed an open interest for race horses, show horses and military equine alike, and she was often seen reaching out to touch any horse in arm’s distance to her.
The animals even played a diplomatic role for her.
During a visit to TODAY on Sept. 9, NBC News commentator Andrea Mitchell recalled how a love for horses served as a boon in 1982, when President Ronald Reagan made his first state visit to the U.K.
“They bonded over horses, their passion for horses,” Mitchell recalled.
Mitchell also remembered another moment from her own experience visiting with the queen that proved how the royal regularly bonded over the topic of animals.
“When we were going to meet her for lunch, we were told don’t talk about anything but horses, corgis or the weather,” she said.
And earlier this year, to mark what turned out to be her final birthday, the queen reiterated her lifelong passion for animals by posing for a portrait with her two Fell ponies by her side.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com