Ever wondered why your Pekingese floats through your living room like she owns the place? Or why your aunt's poodle seems to glare down his nose at you? They may well be descended from the following monarchical canines…
'Where's Master?' depicts King Edward VII's terrier Caesar by the King's empty chair by Herbert Thomas Dicksee. Image via Hamshere Gallery
He later rallied, thanks to Queen Alexandra, and led the King’s funeral procession behind the coffin’s carriage. He was commemorated in the form of books, two Royal paintings, and features at the foot of a Royal statue depicting King Edwards and Queen Alexandra.
Boye, accompanying Prince Rupert of the Rhine in a pro-Parliamentary woodcut. Image via Wiki
Boye was a white hunting poodle highly favoured by Civil War Royalist commander Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Boye was trained to urinate whenever someone mentioned the name of the enemy commander, ‘Pym’.
Puritan propaganda claimed the poodle was actually the devil and entirely bulletproof. Alas, poor Boye was not immortal and died in battle at Marston Moore, 1644.
Khan with one of his 800 dogs. Image via Quora
The Maharaja of Junagadh, India, didn’t stop at one loyal royal. The Navab Sir Mahabet Khan Rasul Khan had 800 pet dogs and a bedroom for each, complete with individual telephones and butlers.
The dogs would be driven about by rickshaw, more often than not dressed in evening jackets. In 1922, the Maharaja called for a canine wedding ceremony for one of his dogs to marry a golden retriever called Bobby.
The extravagant event came to the princely cost of approximately one million pounds, with many of India’s most influential royals and politicians invited to behold the spectacle.
An etching of Looty from the 1874 Chambers Encyclopedia 1874
During the second opium war, Queen Victoria was given a Pekingese puppy by Captain Hart Dunne. Looty was so named as she was the outcome of a raid on Beijing's Summer Palace by British and French forces in 1860.
Pekingese dogs were considered sacred by the Chinese Imperial Court and highly regarded for their ancient 200-year heritage. The Emperor’s elderly aunt committed suicide during the revenge attacks and left behind five dogs, one of which was ‘Looty’.
Queen Victoria had many dogs but she was always particularly smitten with her stolen Pekingese.
Mary Queen of Scots: Maltese terriers
An embroidery of Jupiter, one of Mary's pet dogs. Image via BBC
This particular royal had a rather rocky life, but her Maltese terrier dogs provided consistent comfort right through to the gruesome, bitter end.
At just 5 years old Mary was betrothed to Francis II, Dauphin of France. There, she could only communicate with her Scottish governess and her new French husband's dogs. They would become her lifelong confidants.
At 18 she was made a widow and returned to Scotland with her Maltese terriers in tow. Later accused of murder, Queen Mary was imprisoned for 18 years by Queen Elizabeth in which time her only comfort were her band of Maltese lap dogs.
According to her jailer, Mary whiled away the hours chatting with her dogs about her son James and about religion. In 1586 Mary was found guilty of plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth and sentenced to death by beheading.
Her final steps to the scaffold were slow and laboured, not least because of the fate that awaited her, but also because of the small Maltese terrier hidden beneath her skirts. It was not until the executioner removed her body that he found the white dog, covered in blood, refusing to leave the corpse.
The stained terrier was forced free from the skirts only to run and bury its head next to Queen Mary's severed one. Now that's a loyal royal.
Feature image: Queen Elizabeth II with her beloved corgis. Image via The Loop