Most of us have had our hearts touched by a furry, fluffy, feathered or scaled (I don’t judge) companion at some stage of our lives, and we’ve also likely had our hearts broken when we’ve had to say goodbye to them. In another instance of, ‘celebrities, they’re just like us’, it turns out royal figures from history and all over the world are notorious for their love of animal companions in all shapes and forms, and are equally famous for the odd things they got away with doing for them.
In honour of my own pet, my beloved spaniel Elizabeth who is royal at heart and by namesake, here’s a wrap up of some of history’s most famous royal dogs.
Alexander The Great’s Dog, Peritas
Alexander the Great is known for being an insatiable conquerer, but history says he had a soft spot for his beloved dog Peritas. His companion in life and even in battle, when Peritas died Alexander named a city in his honour and erected a monument of his likeness. Not much is known about the now long-lost city but records indicate it was somewhere in modern Pakistan. Believed to be a Mastiff or a Greyhound, the hound had some legendary exploits and was rumoured to have fought and killed both an elephant and a lion… take it with a pinch of salt. royal dogs
The origin of the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel
You guessed it, the name of the species has something to do with Charles II of England, the “Merry Monarch,” who famously adored his many four legged friends and whose first official portrait appearance at age five featured a small spaniel. After his coronation in 1660 he was known for bringing his dog along to council meetings, and according to one meeting record by famed diarist Samuel Pepys, the hound could be a bit distracting. “All I observed there is the silliness of the king,” he wrote, “playing with his dog all the while, and not minding the business.” royal dogs
Queen Victoria continued the spaniel trend
The queen was gifted a King Charles spaniel, Dash, for her 17th birthday and it was love at first sight. This love was reciprocated by the royal pooch, and in one official royal story he was recorded as swimming after the queen’s boat during a sailing excursion. The queen was also noted to have washed the pup immediately after she returned from her coronation ceremony in 1838. When Dash passed away at the age of ten he was buried in the grounds of Windsor Castle with the epitaph: “Here lies Dash, the favourite spaniel of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. In his 10th year. His attachment was without selfishness. His playfulness without malice. His fidelity without deceit. Reader if you would be beloved and die regretted profit by the example of Dash.”
Marie Antoinette’s beloved pooch Mops
Speaking of pugs, France’s ill fated queen first arrived in France from her home country of Austria without any friends or family. Records state the home-sick monarch was rather blue for her first few weeks at Versailles and her spirits were only raised with the arrival of Mops, her beloved Pug. The pooch even has a brief cameo in Sofia Coppola’s film about the queen, and inspired a children’s book ‘Moi and Marie Antoinette.’
Muhammad Mahabat Khan’s royal canine wedding
Indian ruler Muhammad Mahabat Khan, Maharaja of Junagadh is believed to have owned hundreds of dogs, and considered them part of his family. The pooches were dressed in evening suits for special occasions, had their own room, their own servants, and in one instance, even had a royal wedding. In 1922, the Maharaja bound his beloved dog Roshanara to a golden retriever named Bobby in a wedding that was declared a state holiday. On another, more somber occasion, Khan declared a state of mourning when the dog passed away.
Mary, Queen of Scots’ famous Maltese
Mary, Queen of Scots led a turbulent life with constant danger, and one of her few simple pleasures was the presence of her Maltese terriers. Kept as a prisoner of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, Mary was allowed to keep her pets in her state of isolation. Legend says that at Mary’s execution she concealed her beloved Maltese beneath her skirts, and the small dog had to be dragged away from the deceased queen. One account of the event states, “One of the executioners, pulling off part of her dress, espied her little dog, which was under her clothes, which could not be gotten forth but by force, and afterwards would not depart from her, but came and laid between her head and shoulders.”
The zoo of Empress Joséphine Bonaparte
Napoleon’s beloved wife was well known for her menagerie of odd animals including black swans, peacocks, llamas, kangaroos and even an orangutan. According to legend, during the French Revolution, and her first marriage, Josephine had been imprisoned and her free children were able to communicate with her via notes snuck into the prison by the family’s beloved pug – Fortuné.
When the beloved British monarch passed away recently one of my first thoughts was, “what about the corgis?”. That’s how well known Elizabeth’s love for her short furry friends was. The queen’s affection for the breed started early in life when she was gifted a Welsh Corgi named Dookie as a small child. In fact, all of the Queen’s corgis including the remaining two, Muick and Sandy, are ancestors of Dookie. The two corgis have since moved to Windsor with the queen’s son Andrew, and there’s officially a new breed in residence at Buckingham Palace. England’s new monarch King Charles III and his wife Camilla’s rescue pups Beth and Bluebell are officially the Kingdom’s new canine rulers, and the era of the Jack Russel has begun!