Beyond the obvious, deep love she had for family and country, Queen Elizabeth II also had a special place in her heart for dogs. Long before she ascended the British throne, the queen received a treasured gift from her father that would last a lifetime for the young royal: a little Pembroke corgi named Susan.
Elizabeth first encountered the breed when she was a young princess, but they were not commonly found in Britain. So, the royal family got a Welsh corgi named Dookie in the 1930s for Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret.
It took nearly 11 years for the future queen to finally have her own Pembroke corgi. According to The BBC, Elizabeth received Susan, her first Pembroke Welsh corgi, in 1944 as a gift for her 18th birthday from King George VI. The arrival of Susan would start a royal lineage of corgis that would be companions for Elizabeth for more than 70 years. It’s believed Elizabeth had at least 30 corgis during her lifetime.
Elizabeth’s attachment to Susan was so deep that the pup secretly went to the future queen’s royal wedding to Prince Phillip. The Express reported the bride “kept her young corgi hidden in the royal carriage under a pile of blankets while on her way to Westminster Abbey.”
And, yes, Susan even accompanied the newlyweds on their honeymoon to Scotland’s Balmoral Castle.
Over the years, Susan’s family tree grew to 14 generations and Elizabeth constantly had at least one of her treasured pups by her side. In 1955, photographers captured a photo of the queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and their two children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, playing with Sugar, one of Susan’s puppies.
The queen’s dogs became popular staples of her image over the decades and a pair of them even made a guest appearance in the memorable skit that opened London’s 2012 Olympics. In the video, Elizabeth went on a mission with fellow British icon James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, and the corgis were there to greet him as well.
Many may not realize the role Elizabeth and her corgis had in the creation of a totally new dog breed, the dorgi. Apparently, in 1971, one of the queen’s corgis, Tiny, mated with Margaret’s dachshunds. This royal pairing created a brand-new breed.
Twitter user @ralter shared a BBC graphic of the full lineage of Susan’s family tree over the years, which ended with Willow, the last corgi descended directly from Susan. Sadly, Willow died in 2018 after suffering from cancer.
what's your favorite royal corgi name mine is PLOVER pic.twitter.com/XiuIcluc9h
— Rebecca 'Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Fan' Alter (@ralter) September 8, 2022
“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,” a Buckingham Palace source told The Daily Mail in 2018. “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.”
Just because the line going back to Susan ended doesn’t mean the queen wasn’t done raising dogs, though. NPR reported that Elizabeth is believed to have left behind as many as four dogs when she died, including two corgis, Muick and Sandy. Muick was a gift from her son Prince Andrew during COVID lockdown in 2021, and Sandy was a gift from Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, for her 95th birthday. At first it was unclear what would happen to the royal pups now that the queen has passed, but we now know what will become of two of the dogs.
On Sept. 11, The Guardian confirmed that Muick and Sandy will live with Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, who still share the Royal Lodge in Windsor, though they are divorced. Ferguson and the queen reportedly bonded while walking dogs together, and their friendship continued after she divorced Andrew.
The palace has yet to announce what will happen to the queen’s other two dogs: Candy, a dorgi, and Lissy, a cocker spaniel.