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The Queen and her corgis have been a symbol of the British Monarchy for decades, but this past week it came to an end. Queen Elizabeth II‘s last corgi, Willow, was put to sleep after a cancer related illness. As expected, the loss of her beloved pet has hit the Queen “extremely hard”.

Corgis were first introduced in the Royal Family after the Queen’s father, George VI, introduced Dookie into the household. The Queen then received her very own corgi, Susan, as an 18th birthday present and has been loyal to the breed ever since. Over the nearly 80 years since the Queen acquired Susan, the family continued to breed from her lineage. The Queen has owned at least 30 Pembroke Welsh corgis, all of whom have descended from Susan. Willow was the 14th generation descended from Susan, which is why it’s such a devastating loss.

“She has mourned every one of her corgis over the years, but she has been more upset about Willow’s death than any of them,’ says a Buckingham Palace source. ‘It is probably because Willow was the last link to her parents and a pastime that goes back to her own childhood. It really does feel like the end of an era.” While the Queen was very invested in her dogs, often feeding them crumbled up treats from Her Majesty’s own plate, pragmatism overruled. Breeding of the Pembroke Welsh corgis halted due to fears that with puppies running around the Queen’s feet she might trip and hurt herself.

‘Willow represents a significant thread running through the Queen’s life from her teenage years to her 90s,’ says a courtier. ‘For many, many years she bred and raised corgis and to think that the last one has now gone is something of a milestone.’

The death of Willow doesn’t mean the Queen is companion-less. Last year, she adopted a corgi named Whisper following the death of one of the gamekeepers at the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk. She also has two dorgis (corgi-dachshund mixes) named Vulcan and Candy, which were introduced to the family after Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin mated with one of the Queen’s dogs.

Losing a pet is never easy, especially with such a strong connection like the one the Queen had with her corgis. RIP Willow. Take a look at the many sweet years of Queen Elizabeth and her corgis.