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.
Queen Elizabeth’s last original corgi has died
July 1936The special bond between the Queen and her corgis began when she was just a child. Getty Images
July 1936When she was just Princess Elizabeth and not a queen her father introduced her to the beloved breed.Getty Images
March 1953Queen Elizabeth poses with one of her many corgis in her garden. Getty Images
November 14th 1955Queen Elizabeth II with one of her dogs, as she arrives at Buckingham Palace in London from Windsor, for Prince Charles' 7th birthday.Getty Images
June 6th 1959Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with their corgi Sugar, outside the George IV gateway at Windsor Castle.Getty Images
1960The Queen in Windsor Park photographing her corgis. Getty Images
October 15 1969The Queen arrives at King's Cross railway station in London with her four corgis after holidays in Scotland and before welcoming US astronauts of Apollo 11.Getty Images
1970Queen Elizabeth smiles on the couch at her home in Sandringham with one of her corgis.Getty Images
1974The Queen arrives at Aberdeen Airport with her corgis to start her holiday in Balmoral, Scotland. Getty Iamges
August 4th 1983The Queen and the Queen Mum out for a stroll.Getty Images
May 2016Annie Leibovitz photographed the Queen in Windsor Castle for the cover of Vanity Fair in celebration of her 90th birthday. Vulcan, Candy and the late Willow and Holly are all featured. Instagram/@theroyalfamily