Queen Elizabeth is mourning the death of her last corgi.
The monarch, who turns 92 on Saturday, has reportedly been “hit hard” by the loss of Willow, 14, who was the last in a line that was descended from her original corgi Susan.
The faithful companions, which would travel with the Queen between her various homes, are synonymous with the sovereign, and stuffed versions are even for sale in the palace shops.
As a young princess, the future monarch was given Susan on her 18th birthday, but it was her father, King George VI, who introduced the first of the little dogs into the family with a corgi named Dookie in 1933.
Willow’s passing follows that of Holly (who died 18 months ago at the Queen’s residence in Balmoral, Scotland). Both dogs starred in the mini-movie alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig, which premiered at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and were included in the portraits shot for the Queen’s 90th birthday by Annie Leibiovitz.
Willow was put to sleep at Windsor Castle on Sunday after a cancer-related illness, the Daily Mail’s Richard Kay reports, adding that a palace source says, “It really does feel like the end of an era.”
“Willow represents a significant thread running through the Queen’s life from her teenage years to her 90s. To think that the last one has gone is something of a milestone,” a courtier told the veteran royal writer.
Despite saying that she didn’t want to have any more dogs – in part because it risked her tripping over one of the pets and also she didn’t want to leave any young dogs behind, a friend said the Queen did adopt another corgi last year.
Whisper was brought into the family following the death of one of the gamekeepers at the royal family’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk. She also still has two dorgis (corgi-dachshund mixes), Vulcan and Candy. Buckingham Palace would not comment on the story.