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Queen Elizabeth’s Famous Corgis Were Her Most Loyal Subjects

Just a queen and her Corgis — an everlasting courtship.

by Hilary Weaver
September 8, 2022
Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) holding one of her corgis in her arms and another corgi stands at her feet.
Photo: Chroma Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

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Queen Elizabeth II, who died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday, Sept. 8 at the age of 96, sat on the throne for 70 years as the longest-reigning British monarch. The details of her legacy, though vast and complex, are not complete without mention of her most loyal subjects: her Corgis.

On Sept. 19, the day of her state funeral, her two remaining Corgis, Muick and Sandy, were present as the Queen’s coffin made its way to Windsor Castle for a committal service.

Since 1945, the Queen had an estimated 30 Corgis, per Reader’s Digest. In its dedication to the Queen following her death, the American Kennel Club states that she was gifted Susan, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi for her 18th birthday. The AKC also mentions that all of the Queen’s subsequent Pembroke Corgis were descendants of Susan, who was the foundation for Her Majesty’s breeding program at Windsor Castle.

As Vanity Fair reported in 2015, Queen Elizabeth personally oversaw the breeding of Corgis on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Just like the rest of the Queen’s children, all of those royal little bread loaves had the affix “Windsor” attached to their names.

As much as you wouldn’t expect a “royals — they’re just like us” moment right now, there is one: According to VF, the Queen fed and walked her dogs herself. This means that, just like all of us lowly pet parents who are beholden to our dogs’ meal schedules, the British monarch actually got up close and personal with chicken liver or some other dish that those of the canine variety find appetizing.

So, as you watch the U.K. celebrate the monarch’s life these next few days, just remember that even she, Elizabeth, Regina, knew her dogs’ comfort came before her own. She even shared the cover of Vanity Fair with her then-remaining Corgis, Holly and Willow — and Dorgis, Vulcan and Candy — for her 90th birthday in 2016.

“My Corgis are family,” VF reported the Queen was known to say. As you look over to your pup, who’s curled up on their favorite blanket in their favorite chair in your living room, does that sentiment sound familiar? Thought so.

Prince Philip, who died in April 2021, and the rest of the family referred to his wife’s relationship with her pups as her “dog mechanism.” As Penny Junor wrote for the BBC this year, the Queen would reportedly often escape the stresses of her daily life by Irish-exiting a room with her Corgis.

“If the situation becomes too difficult she will sometimes literally walk away from it and take the dogs out,” Junor wrote. “Prince Andrew is said to have taken three weeks to fight his way past the dogs to tell his mother that his marriage to Sarah Ferguson was in trouble.” 

In June, more than 70 Corgi parents celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at Balmoral, her beloved Scottish retreat.

At the time of her death, the Queen had four dogs (two Corgis, one Cocker Spaniel, and one Dorgi) in her care, per NPR: Muick, Sandy, Lissy, and Candy. In January, Lissy won the 91st Kennel Club Cocker Spaniel Championship. Per Women’s Health, she was gifted her Corgi Muick when Prince Philip was hospitalized in 2021, and princesses Beatrice and Eugenie gave her another Corgi, Sandy, last June, The Independent reported.

Holly died in October 2016, and Willow died in 2018 from cancer at the age of nearly 15 — but not before approving of Meghan Markle as the family’s newest addition. Vulcan died in 2020, just before Christmas, after the death of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s dog, Lupo.

As the Queen’s equine advisor, Monty Roberts, told VF in 2015, she’d expressed that she was hesitant about having any new dogs at that stage in her life.

“She didn’t want to leave any young dog behind,” Roberts said at the time. “She wanted to put an end to it. I understood that we would discuss it further at a later date.”

He continued: “Well, we never discussed it at a later date, and I have no right to try to force her into continuing to bring on young puppies if she doesn’t want to. That isn’t my right. But it still concerns me. Because I want her to believe in her existence until she’s no longer here, because she’s just too important to the world to contemplate checking out. For me, the Queen can’t die.”

In the days following the Queen’s death, People reported that her remaining Corgis will now live with Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second-youngest child, and his ex-wife, Duchess of York, Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, who still share a home at Royal Lodge, in Windsor. Andrew, the duchess, and their daughters had given the Queen Sandy and Muick (named for Loch Muick at Balmoral), so the pups will be living with royals they likely know well.

“The Corgis will return to live at Royal Lodge with the Duke and Duchess,” a source told People. “It was the Duchess who found the puppies, which were gifted to Her Majesty by the Duke.”

Per The Daily Mail, Prince Andrew and his daughter Princess Beatrice had been taking the dogs on their walks for the past few months. The Mail adds that Candy, who is the Queen’s only remaining Dorgi, will likely join Sandy and Muick. Lissy’s next move, however, lives with her trainer, Ian Openshaw, and King Charles will reportedly decide Lissy’s future shortly.

Battersea rescue, the Queen’s patronage for 60 years, paid tribute to her with the following statement from Chief Executive Peter Laurie:

“The Royal Family has been closely connected with Battersea for well over a century and we feel incredibly honored to have had The Queen’s patronage for 60 years. As a life-long dog lover and supporter of so many charities, The Queen will always occupy a special place in the hearts of all our staff and volunteers, many of whom have cherished memories of meeting Her Majesty on one of her visits to our centers. Battersea is so very fortunate to have had such a lasting, treasured relationship with Queen Elizabeth and we join the nation in mourning a much-loved and respected Monarch.” 

8/9/22: This post has been updated to reflect that the Queen had four dogs at the time of her death.

Hilary Weaver

Hilary Weaver is the senior editor at The Wildest. She has previously been an editor at The Spruce Pets, ELLE, and The Cut. She was a staff writer at Vanity Fair, and her work has been featured in Esquire, Refinery 29, BuzzFeed, Parade, and more. She and her cattle dog mix, Georgie, live in New England.