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Like so many British people, Elizabeth II is an animal lover. And the 95-year-old monarch is such a fan of one particular breed of dog that it has become forever associated with her. Small and sturdy, with large ears, the Corgi isn't the most elegant animal, but its intelligence, loyalty and affectionate nature make it a wonderful companion.
Elizabeth's father King George VI first introduced Corgis to the Palace in 1933, and they've been a fixture ever since. Elizabeth was given Susan, her first Corgi, for her 18th birthday in 1944. The pair developed such a close bond that three years later, when Elizabeth married Prince Philip, she is said to have hidden Susan in the open carriage the newlyweds rode in. She even took the pup with her on honeymoon!
For half a century, all of the royal's Corgis descended from Susan, more than 30 dogs in all. Then in 2009, the Queen made the decision to stop breeding from them after two of her favourite pets succumbed to cancer. At the time, she had six corgis. She now has two, as well as one dog called Candi, who belongs to a breed called the Dorgi, which the Queen is credited with creating herself.
As the name suggests, Dorgis are a cross between Corgis and another short-legged breed, Dachshunds - which the Brits often call sausage dogs. The Dorgi came about when one of the Queen's Corgis mated with her sister Princess Margaret's Dachshund, Pipkin.
Her Majesty's dogs lead a life of great comfort. At Buckingham Palace they have their own spacious room, where they sleep in raised wicker beds. They are given fresh sheets daily - a tradition started by the Queen's mother.
Naturally, in whichever of her homes Elizabeth is residing, there is plenty of outdoor space for her pets to run around. A footman takes them for frequent walks, and they enjoy a regular after-lunch outing with their mistress. If, despite all this, they do have a little 'accident' indoors, no one tells them off. The Queen's staff simply mop it up.
Their meals are created by a chef, with menus including chicken breast and beef fillet steak. The Queen herself sometimes pours gravy over the feast before they eat. Of course, she spoils her adored pups even more at Christmas, when she makes a stocking filled with toys and treats for each of them.
And when finally they pass away, they are buried with due ceremony, in a special cemetery on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Each grave is marked with a headstone bearing a touching inscription. Susan's reads, "For almost 15 years faithful companion to the Queen."