For most of the last century, Queen Elizabeth has been closely associated with her beloved dogs, but now the monarch only has one left. On Thursday, the Sun reported that Vulcan, one of her two remaining dorgis, had died of old age, adding that the queen is “upset” by the loss. “Clearly the loss of a loved pet is upsetting,” a palace source told the newspaper, but Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
Vulcan was one of the four dogs that appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in 2016, when the queen was photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Most of the dogs the queen owned were Pembroke Welsh corgis, a breed developed for herding cattle, but she has also kept dorgis, a mix between the corgi and the dachshund. The dorgi breed was actually introduced by accident. In 1971, one of the queen’s corgis named Tiny mated with Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin and gave birth to six puppies.
In 2018, the queen lost her final corgi, Willow, and was left with the two dorgis, Vulcan and Candy, now the last remaining dog. At first, she would replace each dog after it died, but In 2015, V.F. reported that she said that she does not want any dogs to survive her. The queen quietly stopped breeding sometime after she got her last litter of puppies in 2003, perhaps because of the difficult experience the Queen Mother’s corgis had adjusting to a new home after her 2002 death. In addition, there were concerns that the queen might injure herself caring for a younger dog.
The royal family began to own and breed corgis during the queen’s childhood, and two of their first dogs, Dookie and Jane, appeared in the popular book Our Princesses and Their Dogs in 1936. All 30 of the dogs that the queen has owned throughout her adult life were descended from Susan, a Pembroke Welsh corgi she received on her 18th birthday. With the help of an array of breeders, she continued to bring more into the family, and along the way revived the popularity of corgis in Britain. She also gave away plenty of her distinctive dark red dogs as gifts. Many of her dogs are buried in a pet cemetery at Sandringham that was originally started by Queen Victoria.
The rest of the royal family are also dog lovers, but few others shared the queen’s enthusiasm for the breed. Her grandson Peter Phillips was the only person to take one for himself, and Prince Charles once quipped that he preferred labradors. Last month, Prince William and Kate Middleton lost Lupo, a cocker spaniel they had owned for nine years. “He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much,” they wrote on Instagram.
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