A legacy of over 70 years has come to a close this October, as news has gotten out about Queen Elizabeth’s last corgi, Whisper, passing away.
While her majesty still has some dogs, including Labradors and dorgis (corgi/dachshund crosses), Whisper was the last of a line that traced back to the Queen’s teenage years.
When Queen Elizabeth was just a girl, her father brought home some corgis. They weren’t the fluffy-bummed, cream-and-white pups that we think of today — the standard was different back then.
Bred for working, they were sleeker, not quite as short-legged, and often came in solid colors like red. The Queen was rumored as appreciating corgis with less white in their coats, and according to Vanity Fair commented on another breeder’s dog, “Oh, he’s got a lot of white on him, hasn’t he?” in what the breeder took as a disparaging tone.
At 18, Elizabeth got the dog that became the foundation for all the corgis she owned afterward. “Susan” was officially named “Hickathrift Pippa” and became the Queen’s constant companion.
Over the years, the Queen became a savvy breeder of corgis. She never sold them and never showed them, preferring to give them away only as gifts.
She only attended a Crufts show once, and it wasn’t to compete. Incredibly selective when it came to her line, she had people in charge of caring for her pack of corgis (though she preferred to take care of them herself when she could), and her last dog from her own line named Willow passed away earlier this year.
Willow represented over a dozen generations of the Queen’s selective breeding, and it was probably a tough chapter to close. But when she was 89, the Queen reported that she would not be adding any more young dogs to her pack, as she was concerned for their well-being after her passing.
Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer and advisor on things animal, remembered her majesty’s explanation for shutting down the breeding operation. When one of the Queen’s beloved corgis passed, she revealed that she wanted no more puppies.
“I said, ‘I want you to tell me the best breeder of corgis that you revere. Who’s doing the best job? Because I want a puppy to be named Monty, to be a replacement,’” Roberts told Vanity Fair. “But she didn’t want to have any more young dogs. She didn’t want to leave any young dog behind. She wanted to put an end to it. I understood that we would discuss it further at a later date.”
“Well, we never discussed it at a later date, and I have no right to try to force her into continuing to bring on young puppies if she doesn’t want to. That isn’t my right. But it still concerns me. Because I want her to believe in her existence until she’s no longer here because she’s just too important to the world to contemplate checking out. For me, the Queen can’t die.”
Despite not wanting to bring in more puppies, People magazine reported that two years ago the Queen did take a corgi from a staff member who used to help run her breeding operation. Whisper, her last corgi, was with her until sometime last week, when he passed away at the old age of 12.
Thankfully she still has her other dogs, but maybe, just maybe, she won’t be able to resist the pattern she’s set up for herself. Over 80 years of corgis is a hard thing to shake.
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