The lives of few domestic animals are more intriguing to the British public than the Queen’s corgis, so the revelation that a royal dog fight broke out at Balmoral, the vast Scottish estate where the Queen spends the summer, between Her Majesty’s pack of six dogs and Princess Beatrice’s dog Max, an 11 year-old Norfolk terrier, who ‘nearly lost an ear’ in the scuffle, has been grabbing headlines during the annual August news drought.
Making the story a particularly easy sell for news editors is the fact that all the participants in this particular Scooby scrap are celebrity canines. The corgis, of course, are at the height of their fame right now, following a show-stopping appearance alongside James Bond in the Olympic opening ceremony film, but Max also has a media profile of his own. Max disappeared in December 2008 from the York family home in Windsor Great Park, and a search party was launched to find him, which included the Queen. He was hailed as a miracle pup by the British tabs when he showed up, three weeks later, long after all hope had been lost, bedraggled and hungry but safe and sound.
Sunday Express writer Camilla Tominey reports that the fight kicked off when ‘the Queen’s dog boy’ (I know, great job description right?) was leading the Monarch’s dogs and two Norfolk terriers belonging to the Yorks, including Max, through one of the castle corridors, on their way for walkies around the 50,000 acre estate, when the group became “over-excited” and began “fighting among themselves”.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Queen's corgi are actually usually very well behaved. Although William says they drive him nuts, a film-maker who worked on the Olympic film says that the Queen's corgis performed their roles better than the stand-ins, enabling the sequence to be shot in one take: “The Queens corgis behaved impeccably,” says the source, “The stand-ins (used in the helicopter shot) were more tricky.”
But, on this occasion, it seems, insinct got the better of them. Corgis, which were originally bred for herding cattle, have powerful jaws and can inflict a nasty bite, and it seems that they proceeded to do exactly this.
"The Queen's dog boy was taking the corgis for a walk and they were joined by the Norfolk terriers which came with Prince Andrew,” an insider told the Sunday Express.
"They were being taken along the long corridor leading to the Tower Door before being let into the grounds for a walk, and they all became overexcited. They began fighting among themselves and unfortunately the dog boy lost control.”
The source told the Express: “The next thing we knew there were horrific yelps and screams and it seems the corgis picked on Max. He was very badly injured and had to be taken to the local vet. There was blood everywhere.
"The Queen and the Duke were very upset when they were told but the dog is really Beatrice's and she wasn't there either. She later came up to Scotland and has been looking after Max.”
"He was very lucky to survive.”
Beatrice was said to be very upset because another of her Norfolk terriers, Millie, died from natural causes recently.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who were in another part of the castle when the fight happened, were said to be “very upset” about the incident, which reportedly occurred last Sunday, before Philip was admitted to hospital.
Princess Beatrice, 24, who is fifth in line to the throne, received Max, for Christmas when she was 13.
The dog featured on the family's 2005 Christmas card in a photograph taken by Fergie. At present the Queen owns three Pembroke Welsh corgis called Monty, Willow and Holly, who are all descended from one of her first corgis, Susan.
As a result of unplanned pregnancies resulting from romances with a dachsund named Pipkin, who belonged to Princess Margaret, the Queen also has three cross-breed “Dorgis”. Her three Dorgis are called Cider, Candy and Vulcan.
More on the royal corgis, including an image gallery, here.