While mourning the loss of her beloved corgi Susan, Queen Elizabeth took the time to write a moving letter to the veterinarian who cared for the dog prior to her passing.
The Pembroke Welsh corgi the queen received as a gift for her 18th birthday died on January 26, 1959, 64 years ago today. But Susan’s memory lived on in the 14 future generations of royal corgis bred from her litter who were the monarch’s treasured pets over the course of her long life. Following Susan’s death, the queen wrote a thank you note to Harold Swann, the veterinarian who tried to save the corgi’s life. “I would like to thank you for all you did for my dear old Susan when she became ill, and for the immense amount of trouble you took in getting her sent to Cambridge and for all the care she had while she was there,” she wrote at the time. “I had always dreaded losing her as I had had her since she was six weeks old, but I am ever so thankful that her suffering was so mercifully short.” She then signed the letter, “Yours sincerely, Elizabeth R.” The “R” in this case stands for “Regina,” the Latin word for queen. Susan was later buried on the royal’s Sandringham estate and given a tombstone that read, “For almost 15 years, the faithful companion of the Queen.”
According to author of The Corgi and the Queen, Caroline L. Perry, Queen Elizabeth “personally chose the inscription for the headstone,” she told People. She added, “Susan was there for many of the most important moments in Elizabeth’s life. She was by her royal companion’s side when Elizabeth joined a women’s regiment when the Princess served her country during the war. She was there when her companion married Prince Philip, who became the second love of Elizabeth’s life! Susan also provided comfort when Elizabeth’s beloved ‘Papa’ King George VI died; when she was crowned Queen at the age of only 25, and when she became a mother.” Perry concluded, “Susan’s legacy was enduring. Because of her—and her descendants—the corgi will forever be the symbol of the second Elizabethan age.”
The monarch stopped breeding her favorite pet in 2015 as she didn’t wish to leave any behind when she died. However, in March 2021, shortly before the death of her husband Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth received two puppies. When one of the dogs died just a few weeks later, she was gifted another puppy by her son Prince Andrew on what would have been Philip’s 100th birthday. Following the queen’s passing in September of last year, her two corgis, Muick and Sandy, were taken in by Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. The Duchess of York shared what a “great honor” it was to care for the late monarch’s pets, telling the audience at the Henley Literary Festival in October that the dogs are “national treasures” and had “been taught well” by the queen. “They all balance out,” she said of her seven dogs. “The carpet moves as I move, but I’ve got used to it now.”
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