Rest In Peace, Willow: The Queen Bids A Painful Farewell To Her Last Royal Corgi
Willow was the last of the royal corgis that Queen Elizabeth II raised during her six-decade reign.
Ever since the Queen was a young girl, the breeding and care of corgis has been a significant part of her life; indeed, she herself has said, "My corgis are family." On Sunday, the last corgi she bred, Willow (bottom left), died and marked the "end of an era." As one courtier commented, "Willow represents a significant thread running through the Queen's life from her teenage years to her 90s. For many, many years she bred and raised corgis, and to think that the last one has now gone is something of a milestone." Read more at the link in bio. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz for V.F. Summer 2016.
The fluffy-bummed, short-legged, pointy-eared breed will forever hold a special place in the hearts of ruling British royalty and Palace staff. The Queen, most especially, won't quite be the same person now that all of her beloved pooches have all moved on to doggy heaven.
One of the Queen's corgis who appeared in the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony video
Willow, a 14-year-old purebred Pembroke Welsh corgi, was the last of her royal canine companions. The Queen has reportedly owned at least 30 corgis in her life and has never been without one by her side since she was in her teens. The dogs were known to jump on sofas in the Palace, sit by guests' sides during tea time, and—as dog owners will understand—for asking for belly rubs.
Corgis accompanying the Queen as she walks in Palace halls accompanied by Daniel Craig playing James Bond in the 2012 London Olympics video
The sad occasion has reportedly deeply affected the Queen, a known dog lover. Willow, who has appeared in numerous photo shoots, paintings, and even short films with the Queen, was suffering from a cancer-related illness and was euthanized at the Queen's request on Sunday.
Two of the Queen's corgis look on as Daniel Craig flies off in a helicopter
While no official statement has been released by Buckingham Palace regarding the private matter, there are those who suggest that this is much more than the Queen mourning the loss of a dear furry friend. She may, in fact, be heartbroken about losing the last living link to her youth.
The Royal Family: A Centenary Portrait by John Wonnacott (2000) / © John Wonnacott/National Portrait Gallery, London.
The thing is, Willow was a descendant of Susan—Queen Elizabeth's first ever corgi. The dog, which she received on her 18th birthday, she loved so much she even brought her on her honeymoon with Prince Philip. Over time, Susan's puppies, grand-puppies, great grand-puppies and beyond became the Queen's most trusted companions.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with Willow, Vulcan, Candy, and Holly / Portrait by Nicky Philips 2013
As she transitioned from Princess to Queen, and now, to Britain's longest-ruling monarch, her adorable corgis accompanied her from everything to holidays, Sunday walks in the park, photo shoots, and other royal engagements in and out of the Palace. The dogs have become so popular that they have their own Wikipedia page, appeared in a 2012 London Olympics James Bond video, and even got a special mention in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's official engagement video.
There is no one in Britain who won't associate corgis with the Queen, and with the passing of Willow, it appears that an era has ended.
If you're wondering why Willow seems to be the last dog in her long line of ancestry, she wasn't studded on purpose. In 2015, the Queen admitted that she may be unable to care for younger dogs now that she's in her 90s, and she feared that having energetic corgi puppies around might spell out an accident for her. The Queen also disliked the possibility of leaving corgis behind, should she pass away before all her dogs.
But worry not, as Queen Elizabeth isn't completely alone during this tough time. Her royal corgis may have all passed away, but she's still in the company of three other dogs: her "dorgis" (corgi and dachshund cross breeds) Vulcan and Candy, as well as Whisper, a corgi she adopted after his owner, a Sandringham House worker, passed away.
Willow has been buried in the Palace grounds where a tombstone will soon be erected to pay tribute to one of the Queen's most loyal companions.
Cover and content image from @theroyalfamily