The Queen and her corgis: Why the monarch is so fond of the breed

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(L-R) Prince Edward, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Andrew and Prince Philip with one of their corgis in 1979 (AFP via Getty)
(L-R) Prince Edward, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Andrew and Prince Philip with one of their corgis in 1979 (AFP via Getty)

For over eight decades, from 1933 to 2018, Queen Elizabeth II has owned at least one corgi – a dog breed that has become as synonymous with Her Majesty as Buckingham Palace.

In 2018, Whisper, the last of the Queen’s corgis, died, ending what we thought was an 85-year love affair.

But, even then, Her Majesty wasn’t completely without canine affection. At that time, two dorgis, Vulcan and Candy, survived 12-year-old Whisper’s death – the dorgi being a product of one of the Queen’s corgis mating with one of the dachshunds of her sister, Princess Margaret. Vulcan has since passed away, but Candy survives.

But the corgi love affair turned out to not be over – in 2021, while her husband Prince Philip was hospitalised, the Queen was given two corgi puppies, which she named Fergus and Muick.

Both names have special meaning: Muick was named after a favourite spot near the Queen’s summer retreat of Balmoral Castle, and Fergus after an uncle she never knew. Her mother’s brother, Fergus Bowes-Lyon, was killed in World War I in 1915.

Queen Elizabeth II arrives at King’s Cross railway station in 1969 with corgis in tow (STF/AFP via Getty)
Queen Elizabeth II arrives at King’s Cross railway station in 1969 with corgis in tow (STF/AFP via Getty)

Fergus, the pup, tragically died just two months later of a heart defect, but Her Majesty was given another puppy in June by son Prince Andrew and granddaughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, on what would have been Philip’s one-hundredth birthday.

In 2015, it was reported that the Queen was intentionally not planning to add more dogs to her brood. After one of her last corgis died in 2012, she told horse trainer Monty Roberts that she didn’t want to have any more young dogs because “she didn’t want to leave any young dog behind. She wanted to put an end to it”.

The history of the corgi and the Queen

The then-Princess Elizabeth’s first blush with her favourite dog breed happened in 1933, when she was just seven years old. Her father – then the Duke of York – bought a corgi named Dookie for daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. A second corgi, Jane, was added, and after she gave birth to a litter of puppies, two of those puppies, Crackers and Carol, were kept.

For her eighteenth birthday in 1944, Princess Elizabeth was given a corgi named Susan once again as a gift from her father – now King George VI. Since her accession to the throne in 1952, the Queen has owned over 30 corgis, who – though sometimes known for nipping and biting – lived as lavish a life as any dog could lead.

(L-R) Prince Edward, Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne with her son Peter Phillips with the royal corgis in 1979 (AFP via Getty)
(L-R) Prince Edward, Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne with her son Peter Phillips with the royal corgis in 1979 (AFP via Getty)

The life of a royal corgi

Living inside Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s corgis enjoy a privileged life, residing in their own room in the palace known as the Corgi Room.

They sleep in elevated wicker baskets – with sheets refreshed daily – and are tended to by the Queen herself. Their menu is extensive and includes fresh rabbit and beef, served by a gourmet chef.

At Christmastime, the Queen gives her dogs stockings full of toys and biscuits. The dogs are looked after by two footmen, referred to as “Doggie 1” and “Doggie 2.”