Much ado is being made about the arrival of Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle to The Land Down Under. For those of you not familiar with the history of Australia, it once was under British rule. In fact, they used it as a penal colony. Once the ne’er do wells found their freedom they seem to be doing quite nicely on their own – thank you very much.
But this article is about the dogs, and the happy couple are well-known for their love and admiration for the furry little creatures. As they visited various places in the continent, there was a mutual admiration between royalty and canine.
Did you know that British royalty has had a long history of having personal connections with man’s best friend? Queen Elizabeth herself has had a fondness for the loyal creatures dating back to her childhood. The current dog of choice seems to be the Corgi, but breeds from Greyhounds to Sheepdogs have graced the presence of the royal family.
There is significant historical evidence that establishes the link of loyalty as far as 500 years ago. The earliest evidence dates back to about 1635 when a painting of three sons of King Charles I was found with two King Charles Spaniels obediently posing with them. One of the sons in the painting would become King Charles II and continue the royal popularity of the breed. His affection for the breed resulted in a decree that King Charles Spaniels would be able to roam free anywhere in public, including the House of Parliament.
— Emily Nash (@emynash) October 17, 2018
The next piece of historical evidence comes with Queen Victoria’s painting and her own personal King Charles Spaniel by her side. At the time she was only 14 years old, and we do know that the dog had an actual name – Dash. The queen would later welcome other breeds into the royal family but break from tradition by adding a Greyhound and three Sky Terriers to the mix. A quote familiar to dog lovers has been attributed to her: “If it were not for the honest faces of dogs, we should forget the very existence of sincerity.”
Moving forward, King Edward VII had an unusual name for his Wire Fox Terrier – Caesar of Notts. On the dog’s collar a tag which read, “I am Caesar. I belong to the King.” Indeed. On the passing of the king, it was reported Caesar was placed ahead of many other dignitaries at the funeral, honoring the king by following alongside the coffin.
The royal dog of choice in recent years, the Corgi, was introduced into the royal kennels by King George VI. He may have been the first British king to adopt a rescue dog. In 1933 he brought home a Corgi named (unfortunately) Dookie. It just so happens that King George VI was the father of then Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth. That same Princess Elizabeth is currently the reigning Queen of England. Nepotism indeed!
There exist a number of paintings and portraits of the young princesses affectionately posing with their Corgis. Even the somewhat stoic Prince Charles would be found framed with the royal canines. When the Queen does travel, Corgi lovers across the globe stand in line for hours to show their support of her choice. It is reported that she has two Corgis named Willow and Holly.
The most familiar of the royal line: Prince Charles, Princess Diana, their children Charles and William, and Prince Harry, all continue the historical bond with the Corgi. But there may be an upset in the making as Prince William has been caught on film with his first dog, a black Labrador Retriever. Yet another sign that the Corgi may be on the way out is that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have adopted a black Cocker Spaniel, further muddying the royal waters.
No announcement from the throne is forthcoming as to the fate of the Corgi in the royal line. The Queen remains mum on the subject, but it might be time for a change. It could be that the reason for the trip by Prince Harry and Meghan was to begin the search for the next breed of royal dog! Stay tuned.