My pedigree chum! For the first time, a royal corgi reveals (with a little help from John McEntee) what a pampered – and mischievous – life he leads at Her Majesty's heel
21:50 GMT, 25 May 2012
My name is Monty and I am the Queen’s oldest corgi. I’ve never given an interview before, but on the occasion of our mistress’s Diamond Jubilee, I feel the urge to bark loudly about my wonderful life with the best owner in the world.
Throughout her glorious reign, my predecessors and I have never been far from the famous Royal ankles, comforting, amusing and, I have to admit, sometimes infuriating her. We have shared triumph and tragedy with Her Majesty and chewed the trousers of statesmen and commoner alike.
I can trace my lineage right back to Susan – the corgi given to my mistress for her 18th birthday in 1944. There won’t be any more Montys, though, as the Queen stopped breeding corgis three years ago after two of us – as it happens, my great aunt and uncle – died from cancer. She now has only three corgis: myself, Holly and Willow. And I’m not getting any younger. While I can still vigorously wag my tail and worry the trouser leg of the French ambassador, I’m 12 years old now. In human years I’m 84.
On patrol: The Queen with her corgis at Windsor Castle in 1962
I am often asked by visiting dogs about our living arrangements, and I’d be the first to admit we enjoy a pampered existence. While at Buckingham Palace we sleep in our own room near the Queen’s bedroom adjoining the Page’s Pantry, our wicker baskets raised a few inches off the floor so we don’t feel the draught.
We each have our own yellow plastic bowl and get our breakfast from the footman on duty, who then takes us for a walk. Then we meet up with the Queen’s maid, who brings our mistress her 7.30am cup of Earl Grey. How we love scampering over her bed.
If the Queen has time in the evening, she likes to feed us herself. Accompanied by a footman, she uses a silver spoon and fork to dish out our portions of Pedigree Chum mixed with fresh rabbit and dry biscuit topped with gravy, addressing each of us by name. Last summer one of the cooks ended up in the doghouse when the Queen discovered they’d frozen and re-heated our dinner.
Constant companions: Arriving at Aberdeen Airport with her corgis to start her holidays in Balmoral in 1974
My forebear Susan was so loved by the then Princess Elizabeth that she took her to Hampshire on her honeymoon with Prince Philip in 1947. And Susan was quite a character. All us corgis bite, it’s in the genes.
‘They are heelers. They’re cattle dogs, so they bite,’ says our mistress. Susan made life hell for the Royal clockwinder, Leonard Hubbard. But he never complained, even though once he was left with an inch-long gash on his leg. In 1954 she bit Guardsman Alfred Edge. The wound went sceptic, and he was rushed to hospital. Susan’s grandson Whisky even tore the seat out of a Guards officer’s trousers!
When the Queen introduced informal lunches at Buckingham Palace in 1956, we were naturally invited to attend. We always go into the dining room just in advance of the Queen, which prompted the late Diana, Princess of Wales, to describe us as a moving carpet.
The Queen certainly doesn’t mind us nibbling the ankles of her guests. One of my grandparents pulled at the trousers of Simon Walker while he was being interviewed for the job of press secretary in 2000. The Queen didn’t try to stop her pet, and Walker was convinced it was a means of testing his unflappability.
Walkies: The dogs take a dip while walking with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1994
And when Her Majesty’s favourite German designer, Karl Ludwig Rehse, was doing a fitting at Windsor Castle seven years ago, he made the mistake of running down a corridor to fetch a yardstick. The gang and I chased him, yapping and squealing. What japes! Discretion dictates that I keep secret the name of the pet who ripped Karl’s trews before inflicting a nasty wound that required three stitches.
And I won’t name the corgi who broke wind while the Queen was granting an audience to Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam either. I don’t think she was amused when he said, ‘That was obviously the corgi, Ma’am.’ ‘Who else’ she replied.
The Duke of Edinburgh has stoically tolerated us for 60 years or so. Corgi folklore recalls him coming into the Queen’s study as she was reading her parliamentary red boxes. Each entrance was blocked by a sleeping corgi, and Prince Philip had to shove his way in. ‘Bloody dogs,’ he complained. ‘Why do you have so many’ The Queen replied, ‘But darling, they are so collectable.’
We know we have a special place in the Queen’s affections. She nurses us when we’re ill, she de-fleas us and every Christmas we get a stocking crammed with doughnuts, choc drops, a cracker, a cake and a non-squeaky toy. People might say with our stumpy legs, pointed snouts and outsize ears, we’re ugly. But you humans often remark that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Certainly throughout her reign, Her Majesty has found us beautiful.