Crowning glory – a brief history of Royal pets

To mark the coronation of King Charles III and the Queen Consort, Camilla, we take a look at some beloved Royal pets – from the Queen’s Corgis and Battersea rescues Beth and Bluebell to William and Kate’s Cocker Spaniels… The pomp and ceremony of a coronation has not been seen on these shores since 1952, when, on the death of King
Featured image for Crowning glory – a brief history of Royal pets
5th May 2023

To mark the coronation of King Charles III and the Queen Consort, Camilla, we take a look at some beloved Royal pets – from the Queen’s Corgis and Battersea rescues Beth and Bluebell to William and Kate’s Cocker Spaniels…

The pomp and ceremony of a coronation has not been seen on these shores since 1952, when, on the death of King George VI, Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne, becoming Queen Elizabeth II.

More than 70 years later, on 6 May 2023, a grand coronation ceremony will once again take place at Westminster Abbey, London, which will see King Charles III crowned alongside the Queen Consort, Camilla.

It’s a new chapter in our country’s history. Yet, still etched in many a memory, is that solemn September day in 2022 when Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, made her final journey from Westminster Hall to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The Queen’s faithful four-legged friends

In a poignant tribute, when the funeral procession reached Windsor Great Park, waiting patiently were the Queen’s fell pony, Emma, and her two Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Sandy and Muick. The sight of these loyal, much-loved Royal pets brought a tear to many an eye – and demonstrated just how important companion animals are to the Royal family.

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The Queen’s Corgis

Ever since she was a small child, Queen Elizabeth II was extremely fond of Corgis, first encountering the breed through family friends. At that time, the Pembroke Corgi was well known in Wales, but was fairly new to England.

Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret took an instant liking to this smart, characterful dog, and wanted to have one too. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II was the first British monarch to take an interest in this outgoing, friendly breed.

Her father, King George VI, brought home Dookie in 1933 and the little princesses would feed him by hand from a dish held by a footman. In 1944, on her 18th birthday, Elizabeth was given her very own Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Susan. A constant companion, Susan even joined Elizabeth on her honeymoon in 1947.

From Susan there resulted a dynasty of royal Corgis, which continued for 15 generations. Susan died in 1959 and there is a touching gravestone at Sandringham to commemorate this very special friend of the Queen, which reads: “Susan / born 20 February 1944/ died 26 January 1959 / for almost 15 years the faithful companion of the Queen.”

In 2012, the Queen’s Corgis – Monty, Willow, and Holly – had starring roles in one of the greatest TV moments of all time. Who can forget the amazing James Bond sketch featuring Daniel Craig who arrived at Buckingham Palace for a mission to take the Queen (with a twinkle in her eye) to the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

Since her passing, the Queen’s two Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Sandy and Muick, have been cared for by Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, joining the lively pack of Norfolk Terriers that Andrew and Sarah already own.

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THE DOG’S HONEST TRUTH Why having a dog companion – or indeed any beloved pet – can be life transforming >>

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King Charles and Queen Camilla’s Jack Russell Terriers

Just like his mother, King Charles III has a favourite dog breed and has owned many Jack Russell Terriers. Currently in Royal residence are Beth and Bluebell, who Queen Camilla adopted from Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home in London, in 2011 and 2012.

Revealing the story of how two neglected and lonely JRTs have had their lives transformed to one of luxury, care and comfort, Camilla said: “Along I went to Battersea, and Beth appeared, and she had just been moved from pillar to post and dumped. We thought it would be nice for her to have a friend. They found [Bluebell] two or three weeks later, wandering about in woods, no hair on her, covered in sores, virtually dead. And they nursed her back to life and her hair grew again. She’s very sweet, but a tiny bit neurotic, shall we say.”

Camilla has been Royal Patron of Battersea since 2017, taking over from the Queen who had held the position since 1956. She also formed a great friendship with the late Paul O’Grady, who did so much to raise the profile of rescue animals via his support of the charity and the TV series For the Love of Dogs, which aired a Royal Special in December 2022.

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DID YOU KNOW? As well as supporting many animal charities, such as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and Orangutan Appeal UK, Paul O’Grady chose to work with Burgess Pet Care due to our strong values, our work in animal welfare and our commitment to dog nutrition. Together, we created a complete dry dog food range, full of tasty, wholesome ingredients, suitable for all dogs.

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In fact, The Royal Family has been closely connected with Battersea for well over a century, ever since Queen Victoria set up an annual subscription to London’s Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs in 1865, as Battersea was then known.

Soon after, Victoria, who favoured a number of different breeds including Dachshunds, Collies and Pugs, agreed to become Patron. Her support was a signal for the rest of London’s high society to follow suit. Aristocrats, politicians and famous actresses became fundraisers for the Home – a trend that continues to this day.

The Royal Family long been supporters of animal welfare. At a time when tail docking and ear cropping was common, Queen Victoria banned the practice in the Royal kennels. In 1884, one of her sons, Prince Leopold, became the first member of the Royal Family to rehome a Battersea dog, a Fox Terrier named Skippy.

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REMEMBERING ANIMAL HEROES Between 1943 and 1949, 54 animals received the PDSA Dickin Medal – recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross – including 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses and 1 cat >> 

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Prince William and Princess Catherine’s Cocker Spaniels

The Prince and Princess of Wales are the proud owners of a black Cocker Spaniel named Orla, who the couple’s children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – adore.

The newest member of the Wales’ family was gifted from Catherine’s brother, James, after his dog, Luna, gave birth to six Cocker Spaniel puppies. Orla became a companion to the couple’s elderly dog, Lupo, before he sadly died in November 2020.

Lupo was a Christmas gift to William and Kate from her parents in 2011, the year of their marriage, and had a very special place in their hearts. When Lupo joined the family, the couple were living in Wales, where William was stationed as an RAF pilot in Anglesey. Lupo regularly appeared in family photos, including an early official picture of Prince George.

Paying tribute to Lupo on Instagram, William and Catherine said: “Very sadly last weekend our dear dog, Lupo, passed away. He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much. – W & C.”

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5 WAYS TO GET THE WHOLE FAMILY INVOLVED IN PET CARE From being involved in looking after a pet and learning a sense of responsibility, to fun activities you can all do together, we’ve some great ideas to get all the family involved >> 

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You can read the story of Royal dogs through the ages in the Royal Photographic Collection’s Book Noble Hounds and Dear Companions >>

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CARE MORE: Helping you to help your pets live their best lives

  • Got a question about caring for your pets or about the best way of feeding them? Ask our vet >>
  • Looking for helpful advice for your pets? We’ve lots of great tips to help you give your animals the best life on our pet care pages >>
  • Want to stay up to date with the latest news, trends and pet care advice? Head over to our Pet Talk blog >>

Is your dog a Burgess dog? Your cat a Burgess cat? Your small pets Burgess small pets? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

Burgess Pet Care is a British, family-owned company and one of the UK’s leading pet food manufacturers. Supporting British farmers and using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible, its story goes back more than 300 years >>

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