British Royal Women and Their Dogs

I am a BIG dog person. I have two ‘furbabies’ of my own, and I love reading about royal women and their relationships with their four-legged best friends. August 26th is National Dog Day in the United States, so in honor of the holiday I am going to share this post with you highlighting some of my favorite British royals and their friendships with their pups. Enjoy! 🙂

Dogs have been used for hunting in Britain for centuries. But during the Elizabethan era some dogs became even more popular as lapdog companions. Elizabeth I was said to have numerous dogs, both large hounds for sport and small lapdogs that would follow her everywhere. There is evidence that a particular favorite was a small white Maltese. Elizabeth may have been inspired by her parents, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who were known to love King Charles Spaniels since Elizabeth also had a few Spaniels as pets while she was queen.This print shows Princess Elizabeth while she was imprisoned in the Tower of London before she became queen. She is shown with a large greyhound who may have kept her company in the tower.

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I love 19th century history and British royalty, so Queen Victoria has always been one of my favorite royal women to do research about since I was a young girl. Victoria had many dogs and considered them to be a vital part of her family. She would often include them in royal portraits and her dogs would walk behind her and follow her everywhere she went, much like Queen Elizabeth II’s ever present corgis. But out of all of the dogs that Victoria had, perhaps her most beloved was a beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Dash. Victoria positively adored Dash. And as a ‘dog mom’ to two Cavalier mix dogs myself, I know exactly why.

Here is a portrait of Princess Victoria two years before she became queen. She was 16 years old in this painting. You can see little Dash playing at her feet.

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Dash was very beloved to Victoria who had a lonely childhood in Kensington Palace. She could not read popular literature, interact with other children, or engage in normal childhood play due to rules that were set in place for her safety. These rules were called the “Kensington System” and prohibited Victoria from even walking down a flight of stairs by herself. She had to hold someone’s hand in case she fell until the day she became queen at the age of 18 when her uncle died. He had no children so Victoria became his successor. It is said that she was so devoted to her little Spaniel that on her coronation day Victoria finished her duties and then promptly went back to Buckingham Palace to give her “dear Dashy” a bath herself. Dash died at the age of ten in 1840 and Victoria had many other dogs after him but he is her most famous little companion. Victoria’s husband, Albert, also brought a greyhound with him from Germany when he moved to England to marry Victoria and Victoria had a sweet, fluffy Pomeranian named Turi laying on her bed when she passed away.

Here is a great photo of Victoria at her summer residence Balmoral in Scotland in 1867 with her pet dog, ‘Sharp’ who was a black Labrador.

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On September 9th, 2015 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will overtake Queen Victoria’s record as the longest reigning monarch having held the position of sovereign since 1952. Before Elizabeth’s coronation when she was still a princess she thoroughly enjoyed the company of her pet dogs. Thus began a lifelong love and devotion to her Corgis and “Dorgis”, a cross between a Dachshund and a Corgi.

Here is a young Princess Elizabeth with a dog named “Dookie” that belonged to King George VI. She and her sister, Princess Margaret, used to hand feed Dookie with a small candy dish. They also loved Dookie’s sister, a little Corgi named “Jane.” It’s one of my favorite pictures of her as a child.

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Like Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II has had a certain dog hold a special place in her heart. Elizabeth received a sweet Corgi puppy on her 18th birthday that she named “Susan.” Elizabeth adored Susan so much that she brought Susan with her on her honeymoon with Prince Philip. Here is a picture of the queen during the year of her coronation with Susan:

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Since becoming queen, Elizabeth has had 30 Corgis, most of whom have been descendants of Susan. For example, one of the queen’s favorite dogs named “Heather” was the great-grand daughter of Susan. The queen has bred her Corgis in the past; however, she has recently stated that she will not breed any more Corgis because she does not want to leave a young dog behind when she passes away. Perhaps she does not feel any other member of her family would be as keen on Corgis as she is?

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The queen is said to be very strict with her dogs and as a result they are very obedient to her. Princess Diana once described the queen’s Corgis as being like “a moving carpet” following Elizabeth wherever she goes. They are fed a special diet of raw rabbit, chicken, and vegetables by their very own chef. However, Elziabeth’s Corgis have been known to bite those who work for the queen and even foreign dignitaries who have come to visit her. It had become so much of a problem that a dog psychologist was called to train them and a “Beware of Dogs” sign was placed at Windsor Castle and Balmoral. A few Christmases ago Princess Anne brought her dog with her to visit the queen and her dog unfortunately attacked one of her mother’s Corgis so viciously the Corgi’s legs were broken and it had to be put down.
Those who are close to the queen say that the reason why she adores dogs and horses so much is because animals do not treat her like a queen. They treat her like anyone else.

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In comparison, Princess Diana was not as much of a dog lover as some other royal women. Here is a rare picture of Diana watching Prince Charles play with some dogs at a polo match:

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Prince Charles did have a Labrador when the royal couple first married named ‘Harvey’ but Diana did not like the pooch and had him sent to another residence.

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However, the royal family did have a pet Jack Russell Terrier for a while after Prince William and Harry were born. Here he is in the family’s official photo:

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Then, we have Princess Diana’s son and daughter-in-law: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. According to Kate’s brother, James, he gave Kate a black Cocker Spaniel puppy as a gift in 2012. She named the puppy “Lupo” which means ‘wolf’ in Italian, and the pup has been an important part of the Cambridge family ever since.

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As a matter of fact, author Aby King has used Lupo as inspiration for a series of children’s books called “The Adventures of a Royal Dog.” How adorable!

Happy National Dog Day everyone! 🙂
The Frugal Lady

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