WHEN HER Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday last month, hundreds of commentators around the world remarked on how, during her 53-year reign of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, Her Majesty has managed to keep up with such a punishing schedule of public appearances, official functions and day to day duties of the Monarch.
Her Majesty’s press secretary Penny Russell-Smith recently said that the Queen’s continued good health and robust fitness is largely down to the two animals that figure most prominently in her private life – horses and dogs.
"The Queen walks a great, both inside the palaces and in the grounds of Sandringham and Balmoral, where she walks not only the Corgis, but her shooting dogs too," said Ms Russell-Smith. "She still rides at Windsor; being out with animals is very much a part of her regime."
The Queen’s first pony was given by her grandfather, King George V, when she was 4 years old. She remains keenly interested in horses and horse racing. But perhaps it is her dogs with which she is most closely associated, most notably her Corgis.
The queen has owned more than 30 corgis, starting with Susan, a present for her 18th birthday (a good portion of her dogs since have been direct descendants from Susan). She currently owns five corgis: Emma, Linnet, Monty, Holly and Willow. She was also very fond of her crossbreed ‘Dorgis’, the result of the mating of one of her corgis with a Dachshund named Pipkin, which belonged to Princess Margaret. She owns four Dorgis: Cider, Berry, Candy and Vulcan.
In fact, one of the original Dorgis – actually belonging to the Queen’s younger sister Princess Margaret - is shown alongside Her Majesty together with a Corgi and two Labradors in the famous painting by Terence Cuneo, the original of which hangs in the boardroom at the Kennel Club’s Clarges Street headquarters. As such, it is the only crossbreed to be exhibited in these hallowed portals. Her Majesty is, of course, patron of the Kennel Club.
Scientific research has proved consistently that dog owners enjoy a high level of fitness and longevity thanks to the physical and mental exercise afforded to them by their dogs. Bearing Her Majesty’s love of dogs in mind, it seems a fair bet to say that she will be long to reign over us for many years to come… accompanied, of course, by her beloved dogs.
Happy Birthday, Ma’am!