Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday at the age of 96, was known for her many trademarks. Besides her habitual love for afternoon tea and her colorful outfits, the Queen had a fondness for one thing above all else: the corgi.
Though the corgi has become a trendy dog in the US in recent years, the Queen was a lifelong champion of the breed and is estimated to have owned well over 30 of them during her reign, with up to four or five at a time. The Queen’s corgis were even featured alongside her and Daniel Craig, as James Bond, in a special video for the London Summer Olympics in 2012.
The Queen’s preferred corgi breed is the Pembroke Welsh corgi. Other breeds of corgis include the Cardigan Welsh corgi and the dorgi, which is a cross between a dachshund and a Welsh corgi, with this hybrid being traced back to Queen Elizabeth II herself. In 1971, the dorgi was born by accident, when Tiny, one of the Queen’s corgis, mated with Pipkin, one of her sister Princess Margaret’s dachshunds.
The Queen’s fascination with the corgi began when she was 7 years old. It is said that a friend of hers had a corgi and she wanted one too. At the time, Pembroke Welsh corgis were common in Wales, but not so common in England. Dookie (also known by the name Rozavel Golden Eagle) was the royal family’s first corgi and was purchased from a local kennel in 1933 by Elizabeth’s father, King George VI.
It wasn’t until her 18th birthday in 1944 that Princess Elizabeth was given a Pembroke Welsh corgi puppy of her own named Susan. This corgi would go on to become the Queen’s faithful companion for years to come, even joining her and Prince Philip on their honeymoon to Scotland in 1947 (the Queen allegedly smuggled Susan under some blankets).
Susan, who died in 1959, was bred by the Queen and spawned a lineage that lasted decades (14 generations!), throughout most of her rule. As she reached her 90s, Queen Elizabeth II stopped breeding dogs. The last of Susan’s descendants, Willow, died in 2015, which had a profound impact on the monarch. The Queen is said to be leaving behind four dogs: two corgis, one dorgi, and a cocker spaniel. It is not clear who will care for them in the immediate future.