Two events which took place in the past weeks have prompted me to examine the relationship between British Royals and their pets.
I am not talking animals in general, kept as a form of business or for sport purposes but specifically pets, that category of creatures with which we entertain a distinctive, emotive relation. The events I mentioned at the beginning are in fact characterized by a special, empathic view of animals, seen as companions that humans must protect, respect, care and tend for; no need to mention that both happening involved a member of the Royal family.
On 27 November Her Royal Highness Princess Anne (who is also President of the Animal Health Trust) opened a state-of the-art centre for the research and cure of cancer in animals in Kentford, Suffolk. On 12 December, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, payed an official visit to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, a charity of which she’s also an enthusiastic Patron.
In this post I won’t deal with the much discussed and thorny topic of the Royal family practice of hunting, which I don’t think is due to a lack of sensitivity towards wildlife, fauna and animal rights in general but stems -apart from a centuries-long tradition for nobles and royals- from the anthropologically correct assumption that there is a clear difference between animals that we can hunt and animals which we treat as “part of the family”. Here is a list of members of the Royal family and their pampered pooches of choice.
The Princess Royal is definitely a dog person, with an inclination for English Bull Terriers: the impetuosness of her two pets Florence and Dotty have unfortunately been cause of some trouble and grief. In fact Dotty was accused to have attacked two children in a park in 2002, whilst Florence, the following year, injured to death one of the Queen’s Corgis. Both the dogs subsequently underwent training and psychological therapy and after that have been seen peacefully and safely playing around the Princess Royal’s grandsons.
Both of them, thanks to their “rural” and “country” vocation are naturals with animals, also with the most unusual and exotic species: in fact during their Royal Tour this year we’ve seen them keenly handling baby koalas, kiwi birds and kangaroos!
The couple is proud and affectionate owner of two rescue Jack Russels, Beth and Bluebell, both adopted from London’s shelter Battersea dogs and Cats Home. The lively pair of pups surely made up for the loss of the Duchess’ old dogs, Tosca and Rosie.
Although not directly owing a pet and having been heard complaining about his consort pooches in the following terms: “B***y dogs! Why do you have to have so many!”, Prince Philip is an animal lover as well with a preference for Labradors, a keen ornithologist and very much involved in the cause of Wildlife preservation.
Princess Beatrice owns an 11-years old Norfolk terrier called Max.
Lupo, their black cocker spaniel made headlines even before being introduced to the public; as anything pertaining the couple is destined to cause a sensation and in its public outings was photographed more than its owners… Almost!
Inseparable from Her Majesty, who tends to their canine needs a great heal herself, the Queen’s Corgis have become almost icons,
starring aside James Bond for the Olympic Ceremony clip and having been depicted in a stained-glass window in the Chapel of the Savoy, London. The Queen presently owns two Corgis -Holly and Willow- and two Dorgis (a cross-bread between corgi and dachsund) – Candy and Vulcan. The love and dedication of HM to her pets is legendary, as well as the dogs intemperances and naughtiness. Endless articles and even a book (Not in front of the corgis, by Brian Hoey) have been written on the most pampered dogs in the world; despite the extravagance and the luxurious lifestile they’re treated to, there’s no doubt that they actually are faithful and trusty companions to the Queen, who has with them a very special bond.
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