The Queen and her lifelong passion for animals – from dynasty of corgis to victorious racehorses | UK News
From a young age, the Queen had an affection for animals.
She was an avid horse rider and dog lover, who was regularly seen with her pack of corgis.
Her Majesty was also a guardian of two giant tortoises, an elephant, a sloth and two jaguars, some of which had lived at London Zoo.
But it was her loyal corgis that the Queen had maybe the strongest affection towards, with the monarch once declaring: “My corgis are family”.
Richard Griffin, a royal protection officer who worked with the Queen for 14 years, recalled her having as many as 11 dogs at one time.
“When we went to Balmoral there were gun dogs as well,” he told Sky News. “And the ponies would be up there so she could go riding every morning.
“It was just a complete country life, which she loved.”
The Queen’s love for dogs began in 1933 when her parents acquired the family’s first corgi, named Dookie, according to Vanity Fair.
Her Majesty, then a princess, eventually got one as a present from her parents when she turned 18, her first of more than 30.
All her corgis are descendants of her first, Susan, who died aged 14 in 1959 and is buried at Sandringham.
The Queen also owned labradors, cocker spaniels and a dorgi – a cross between a corgi and dachshund.
In 2012, corgis Monty, Willow, and Holly appeared in the Olympic opening ceremony when, in a sketch, Daniel Craig (in character as James Bond) arrived at Buckingham Palace to escort the Queen to the event.
And in a Vanity Fair cover story in 2016, the Queen requested that her canine companions be part of the series of portraits.
Her Majesty’s love of horses and horse riding was a passion she shared with her mother and is believed to have started with her first riding lesson.
From early childhood the Queen was surrounded by relatives who owned, rode and talked about horses.
In footage shared by the Royal Collection Trust in 2020, a young Elizabeth was seen pulling a horse toy behind her and riding as a teenager.
The Queen went on to breed and race horses for more than 60 years.
Thoroughbreds owned by the Queen have won four out of the five flat racing classics – the 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger – with only the Derby eluding her.
Her horse Dunfermline, ridden by jockey Willie Carson, gave the Queen her most famous victory, triumphing in the Oaks and St Leger in her Silver Jubilee year in 1977.
In recent years, the Queen made sporting history when she became the first reigning monarch to win Royal Ascot’s Gold Cup with her thoroughbred Estimate in 2013.
She had more than 20 winners at Royal Ascot – one of the premier events of the racing season.
During her life, she pursued her keen interest in horse breeding, sending her mares to stud farms around the world.