When Queen Elizabeth II’s most recent pet corgi died in 2018, it marked the end of an era. For decades, the monarch had been surrounded by a pack of the short-legged dogs — but she’d reportedly vowed not to adopt any more, because she didn’t want pets to outlive her.
That resolve evaporated last week, as the British royal family braced itself for the fallout from Oprah Winfrey’s sit-down with Harry and Meghan. Days before the explosive interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aired, the 94-year-old queen acquired two corgi puppies, British tabloids reported.
“The corgis are intensely loyal and loving and they have never let her down,” royal biographer Penny Junor told the Sun. “And of course corgis also seldom rush off to L.A. to give interviews.”
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace did not dispute the Sun’s report, but declined to provide details about the dogs.
Cynical observers might conclude that adding a few adorable corgi puppies to the royal family is a strategic ploy. After all, even people with little enthusiasm for the monarchy can be charmed by inquisitive, excitable dogs. “Symbols of friendliness, they are shrewdly deployed for publicity purposes, lending warmth to her public image,” Vanity Fair noted in 2015.
But there have been no leaked pictures of the corgis to counter the negative headlines about the racism and rejection that Harry and Meghan allegedly faced from the palace. We don’t even know the puppies’ names.
British media reports suggest that the dogs are also providing emotional support while the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, is hospitalized. The 99-year-old was admitted last month for heart surgery and has spent the past 20 nights in the hospital — his longest stay to date. A royal insider told the Sun that the puppies are “bringing in a lot of noise and energy” to an otherwise somber Windsor Castle.
Over the years, the castle and palace have been home to at least 30 corgis, and Philip has referred to the queen’s insistence on feeding and walking them herself as her “dog mechanism” — a kind of therapy.
But before the crisis, the royal household was home to just one dog — Candy, an aging dachsund-corgi mix who is the last of the queen’s “dorgis.” Distinguished by their long, floppy ears, the crossbreeds became a beloved part of the royal family after one of the queen’s corgis accidentally mated with a dachshund belonging to Princess Margaret, according to Vanity Fair.
The queen’s corgis and dorgis alike live a charmed life: They reportedly sleep in their own “corgi room” and dine on chef-prepared steak filets. And they appear to have been far more welcoming than some other members of the royal family. In 2017, when Harry announced his engagement to Meghan, he recalled in a television interview that the corgis had taken to her “straight away,” wagging their tails as they lay on her feet during tea.
“I’ve spent the last 33 years being barked at. This one walks in, absolutely nothing,” he said.
Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.