Royal Corgi: They were almost as famous as their royal owner.
The Queen’s corgis featured in official photographs, ran around the palaces as presidents visited and even starred with her in the James Bond spoof film for the 2012 London Olympics.
One Welsh breeder knows more than most how much the Queen adored her pets.
Mary Davies of Garnswllt, Swansea, bred Pembroke Welsh corgis with Queen Elizabeth II and they developed a bond over their love of the dogs.
“She always preferred the Pembrokeshire corgis rather than the Cardigan corgi,” said Mrs Davies.
“They have the brain of a big dog in a small package. The Pembrokeshire is a very outward going, cheerful little soul.
“I think she had as many as nine at one stage but she also had dorgis which are a corgi-cross-dachshund. So there were always a couple of those in the mix as well.”
Mrs Davies’ association with the Queen started in 1992 when her dog Timmy was chosen to sire the monarch’s litter.
“I was asked to take Timmy to Windsor because the Queen was looking for a stud dog to use on one of her bitches,” she said.
“The lady who used to help her, Nancy Fenwick, went to one or two of the dog shows and she picked out eight dogs the Queen might be interested in.”
Timmy and the seven other dogs were inspected by the Queen, who inherited her love of corgis from the Queen Mother.
“She asked me a few questions about Timmy, what he was like, and she patted him and he was quite friendly towards her,” said Mrs Davies, who was chairwoman of the Welsh Corgi League.
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“I later got a phone call and found out she liked him best. I felt really pleased, quite proud of him.
“Timmy was a neat little dog and a lovely red colour and I think she liked the deep reds.
“When the bitch was ready to be mated we were summoned and we had to take Timmy back to Windsor.”
It was February 1993 by then – about three months after Windsor Castle was extensively damaged by a fire.
“She spoke about that and how sad she was about the fire,” said Mrs Davies.
She was later told that the bitch, Windsor Rush, was in whelp, and the Queen contacted her to offer her a puppy from the litter.
Mrs Davies went to Windsor and picked a corgi called Quiz, “a lovely dog, very nice and very friendly”.
“When Quiz was two-and-a-half years old we had a litter from her. The Queen had tried to have a litter from the sister that she kept but didn’t have any puppies.
“So when Nancy heard that I had got a litter she asked if I would let the Queen have a puppy.
“And I did and she was called Emma, which I think was one of the Queen’s favourites.”
When Emma later had her own puppies, Mrs Davies was once again invited to Windsor to see them.
“The Queen got out of the Range Rover in her wellies and her long mac and headscarf, just like any of us would have if we were taking the dogs for a walk.
“It was just the Queen, there was nobody else with her. She asked me what I thought of the puppies and I said I thought they were very nice.
“And she was laughing because two of them were tricolour and she likes the reds but she said she was going to keep them.”
The Queen had dozens of corgis and dorgis during her reign and they all enjoyed a pampered life as royal pets.
The dogs used to travel around with the Queen – if she went to Sandringham or Balmoral they went with her.
“She loved to take them to Balmoral,” said Mrs Davies.
“They went on lovely walks.”
But at Windsor Castle, the noise of planes flying overhead did cause a few problems.
“The Queen used to grumble about the aeroplanes at Windsor and of course, in those days, there was Concorde going over which would make a lot of noise and it would set all Nancy’s dogs off howling.
“And the Queen grumbled because she said all Nancy’s dogs were giving hers ideas about howling when Concorde came across. They were a bad influence.”
Mrs Davies said the Queen was always trying to improve the nature of her corgis.
“I think they had bad publicity over a silly little thing, you know like a Corgi nipping somebody’s leg… I mean it was only probably playful.
“I met several of the Queen’s corgis and none of them were at all bad tempered.”
The Queen and Mrs Davies kept in touch, sending Christmas cards, and they met again at the Powys Picnic, an event organised in mid Wales to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in 2002.
“The Queen recognised me and spoke to me,” she recalled.
“I actually had Quiz and it was very nice to show her to the Queen. She said ‘oh Quiz’, and she leant down and made a fuss.”
“In fact [former BBC royal correspondent] Jenny Bond came up to me afterwards and said ‘why did the Queen talk to you for so long’?”.
Mrs Davies saw a side to the Queen not often seen by other members of the public.
“She always seemed very relaxed – she loved to be with the dogs and she was easy to talk to.
“I shall remember has as a very regal lady but a lady who spoke to everybody and was very knowledgeable.
“I mean, she knew all about the pedigrees of the dogs and she also knew the pedigrees of the horses that she had.
“It was quite an honour to be involved with the Queen’s dogs.”
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