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It’s a Royal dogs life

The Queen and her CorgiWhen the first official family portraits of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their son, Prince George, were released last week, the family dog, Lupo, looking contented and relaxed in the glorious sunshine on the Middleton family lawn, was again thrust into the limelight.

Lupo, a black Cocker Spaniel, was adopted by the Royal couple shortly before Christmas 2011 from a litter allegedly born to the Middleton family dog, Ella.  The dog replaced a black Labrador named Widgeon, who was given to Prince William by his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, shortly before her death in 1997.

Lupo has been a constant companion to the Duchess of Cambridge, enjoying long walks through Kensington Gardens, watching Prince William play a game of polo and even doing a bit of shopping in London.  The Duke of Cambridge emphasised Lupo’s importance in the Cambridge family when he stated in an interview with CNN’s Max Foster, “For me, Catherine, and now little George, are my priorities.  And Lupo.”

Over the years, the Royal Family have embraced dogs as their pets of choice.  Formal portraits show Kings, Queens and their children posing happily with their beloved canines, from King Charles Spaniels to Wire Fox Terriers, Collies to Pembroke Welsh Corgis.  Some pets, as in many households, were considered very much members of the family and have been the subject of paintings and sculptures.

When Queen Victoria’s beloved Collie, Noble, died at Balmoral in 1887, he was buried in the grounds of the castle and given his own gravestone, which read:  “Noble by name by nature noble too, faithful companion sympathetic true, his remains are interred here”.  A life-size marble statue of Noble was sculpted by Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s daughter, and now stands at Osborne House.

Caesar, the Wire Fox Terrier owned by King Edward VII, was the subject of a hand crafted model of chalcedony, rubies, enamel and gold.  Caesar had been a devoted companion to the King, been allowed to sleep on an easy chair next to the King’s bed and even wore a collar that read “I am Caesar.  I belong to the King”.  After King Edward VII’s death in 1910, Caesar attended the funeral and walked in the procession in prominence ahead of nine Kings and other heads of state.

The current Queen is, of course, associated with the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.  The breed was introduced to the Royal Family by her father, King George VI, when he bought a Corgi called Dookie from Rozavel Kennels in 1933.  The animal proved so popular with his daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, that a second Corgi, Jane was adopted.

For her 18th birthday, Princess Elizabeth was given a Corgi named Susan.  Susan accompanied the newly married Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on their honeymoon in Hampshire in 1947. Susan was the forebear of Her Majesty’s line of Corgis and Dorgis – Corgis who were mated with Dachshunds (most notably Pipkin, who belonged to Princess Margaret).  During the course of her life, The Queen has owned more than thirty of Susan’s descendants.

At present, Her Majesty owns two Dorgis; Candy and Vulcan, and two Corgis; Willow and Holly, who found fame when they appeared in the James Bond skit filmed for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.  The Queen’s Corgis travel with her to the various Royal residences, with Her Majesty looking after them herself as much as possible given her busy schedule.

Other members of the Royal Family also own dogs of various breeds. Prince Charles’ Jack Russell terrier, Tigga, featured prominently in His Royal Highnesses 40th birthday photographs and on several family Christmas cards, the most memorable being the “Flowerpot Men” card of 1995.  The Duchess of Cornwall owns two Jack Russell terriers; Beth and Bluebell, who were both rescued from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Photo credit:  Amil Mohanan via photopin

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