The real reason Queen Elizabeth has owned so many corgis

What is the Crown without her corgis? The longest-reigning monarch in British history undoubtedly harbors an affinity toward the breed (not to mention neon outfits). In fact, many believe that Queen Elizabeth has owned more than 30 corgis over the course of 70 years. (That’s longer than her marriage to Prince Philip!)

Although English royals have long been devoted to their dogs, none have been quite so commonly identified with them as Queen Elizabeth. (Don’t miss the reason she always carries a purse, too.) The unbreakable bond between woman and pup began when the Queen’s parents got the royal family’s first corgi, named Dookie, in 1933. She later received her own pooch, Susan, in 1944 for her 18th birthday. Besides tagging along on the Queen’s honeymoon, Susan also gave birth to a pair of puppies in 1949. Thus began the line of royal corgi breeding, which the Queen herself engineered and has lasted for at least 14 generations of dogs.

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These pups have since become personal companions to the Queen, and she dotes on them—she even calls them “family.” Her corgis sleep in their own room and eat food prepared by a personal gourmet chef. But besides the endless amounts of love and affection she feels for (and receives from!) them, there’s also a more practical reason to keep her corgis around. They provide a way for the Queen, like any dog owner, to break the ice with strangers with conversation about their pups. Plus, the daily walks and feedings provide a comforting therapy for her, Vanity Fair reports.

Sadly, Buckingham Palace is no longer echoing with the chirps and barks of the Queen’s many dogs. The last surviving members of the royal corgi family are Holly and Willow; after they were born, Queen Elizabeth stopped breeding.

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