It’s the end of a royal era.
The queen’s last corgi has died.
Elizabeth stopped breeding the small hunting dogs as she did not want to be outlived by her pets, which are not liked by the rest of her family.
Attentive readers who follow closely the twists and turns of royal kenneling will be excused for feeling a sense of déjà vu, as just last year The Daily Beast reported that the queen’s last corgi had died.
In fact that story referred to the death of Willow, 15, who was made famous by her appearance on the James Bond skit screened at the opening of the London Olympics, and Willow’s demise was much remarked on as it marked the death of the last corgi she had bred herself.
Her Majesty's corgi breeding fascination began during her teenage years when she was given a Welsh Corgi, named Susan, by her father George VI.
However two years ago, according to the Daily Mail’s social diarist Richard Kay (and what Kay doesn’t know about the corgis can be written on a dog tag) she adopted Whisper after its owner Bill Fenwick, a former Sandringham gamekeeper, passed away.
Fenwick’s late wife Nancy was known in jest as the ‘keeper of the queen’s corgis’ and it was she who was entrusted with their care when Elizabeth was travelling, not an easy task, given their very particular habits which include being fed freshly prepared food served on battered old silver salvers.
The Queen had developed a close bond with Whisper and his death has “hit her hard,” a source told Kay, adding, “Whisper was a friendly chap and followed her everywhere.”
The Daily Beast has previously reported that the queen privately told close friends and family that she will not be breeding any more corgis, as she was concerned about who will look after them when she is gone.
Prince William has previously expressed his dislike for the dogs, which are prone to yapping—“They’re barking all the time... I don’t know how she copes with it,” William once said—and Prince Charles is said to not be a fan of the distinctive animals.
The queen still has two dorgis—corgi-dachshund cross breeds—named Cider and Vulcan. The dorgi line results from an unplanned liaison between a corgi and Princess Margaret’s dachshund, Pipkin. They will continue to travel with her. They sleep in raised wicker baskets in a special boot room near the royal apartments, and have license to wander freely around the palace.
The queen was given her first dog, a Cairn terrier, at the age of 3 by her uncle, the Prince of Wales.
Should the queen feel in need of further canine company, there are still a number kept in the royal kennels at Sandringham. The kennels were established by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1879 to house 100 dogs, and while numbers have slipped somewhat, they are still home to some 20 gundogs, including Labradors and cocker spaniels.