A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

21 Vintage Photos (and Paintings) of Royal Dogs Throughout History

It's not just Queen Elizabeth II that adores her doggies. Throughout history, members of the British royal family have had their canine companions close by their sides, and we have the images to prove it.

Queen Elizabeth I
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Queen Elizabeth I, dog lover by birth

Queen Elizabeth I is pictured here, fashioned as Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt, with what is assumed to be her beloved canine companion. Her father, King Henry VIII, was also a dog lover, with a particular fondness for beagles, spaniels, and greyhounds. Here are some myths about the royal family that it’s time to stop believing.

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots with her Maltese

Mary, Queen of Scots led a turbulent life and her dogs, Maltese terriers, were one of her only comforts in the final 19 years of her life. During that time she was a prisoner of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I (who allowed Mary to keep her dogs with her). It’s said at Mary’s execution, she concealed her beloved Maltese beneath her skirts, and no one even realized until after Mary’s death.

King Charles I

King Charles I, with the dog that bears his name

The second son of James VI grew up to become King Charles I, ascending to the throne in 1625. This painting of Charles flirting with a young woman features one of Charles’ beloved dogs, a spaniel that is now known as a King Charles Spaniel. The breed is very popular, despite that King Charles was an extremely unpopular king—his reign ended with his beheading in 1649. If you want to read about some more dog history, don’t miss these Italian dog breeds that are still popular today.

Queen Victoria
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Queen Victoria with her “dear little Dashy”

Queen Victoria’s beloved King Charles Spaniel, Dash, was given to her while she was still Princess Victoria. During a lonely childhood, Victoria relied upon Dash as one of her only friends. When Dash died in 1840, three years into Queen Victoria’s reign, she had the following engraved on his tombstone:

Here lies Dash, the favorite spaniel of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, by whose command this memorial was erected. He died on the 20th December 1840 in his ninth year. His attachment was without selfishness, his playfulness without malice, his fidelity without deceit. Reader, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of Dash.

Queen Victoria went on to have many other beloved pets, but Dashy will always be remembered as her most beloved.

King Edward VII

King Edward VII and his good boy, Caesar

Although like his mum Queen Victoria, King Edward VII loved all dogs, his most famous was Caesar, a terrier, who accompanied the King everywhere, including meetings with politicians (who didn’t always appreciate “his royal stinkiness”). Caesar outlived his beloved master, even marching behind Edward’s coffin at the funeral procession in 1910. Take a look at these candid, rarely seen photos of the royal family.

Queen Alexandra
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Queen Consort Alexandra, and her Pekinese

King Edward VII’s wife, the Queen Consort Alexandra, was no less a dog lover than her husband or her dear mother-in-law. She’s pictured here in the late 19th century with her Pekinese.

King George V

King George V, with his dad’s dog, Caesar

King George V, the successor to his father, King Edward VII, was also a dog lover. He’s pictured here with King Edward VII’s beloved Caesar, who lived for several years as King George V’s companion after King Edward VII’s death. If you’re looking to adopt, don’t miss these Australian dog breeds that are so energetic and make the best companions.

George Duke of Kent

George, the Duke of Kent, with his Alsatian

George, Duke of Kent, the second son of King George V, is pictured here with his wife, Princess Marina of Greece, and their beloved Alsatian. George died in a military plane crash in 1942, a decade before his niece, Princess Elizabeth would ascend the throne.

Lady Elizabeth Queen Mother

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Lady Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon married King George VI and gave birth to Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret (she became known as the Queen Mother when Elizabeth ascended the throne as Elizabeth II). Here she is pictured as a young girl with her dog at a garden party in Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth II young

Queen Elizabeth II as a child with Dookie, the first royal Corgi

In this photo from 1933, George VI (at the time, still Albert, Duke of York) and the Queen Mum (at the time, still Elizabeth, Duchess of York) are pictured with their children, Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret, and several of their dogs, one of whom is Dookie, the first Welsh Corgi owned by the royal family. Dookie, who was gifted to Elizabeth and Margaret by their dad, won the hearts of the princesses and sowed the seed for Queen Elizabeth become one of the world’s most famous fans, and breeders, of Corgis. Find out the reason behind Queen Elizabeth II’s many corgis.

Duke and Duchess of Windsor
Anthony Camerano/AP/Shutterstock

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, fans of pugs

After King Edward VIII abdicated the throne, he became known as the Duke of Windsor. He and his wife, the former Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, adored all their dogs, but especially their pugs. Here they hold Trooper and Disraeli in 1954. Don’t miss these 19 vintage iconic wedding photos from royal weddings from the past.

Prince Charles and Princess Anne
Monty Fresco/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Prince Charles and Princess Anne with three Corgis

This photo, taken in 1959, shows Prince Charles and Princess Anne, the first two children of Queen Elizabeth II with her husband, Prince Philip, being led by three of the royal Corgis. Take a look at King Charles III’s adorable dogs who are about to move into the Royal Palace.

Princess Margaret
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Princess Margaret with a couple of her pups

In this 1959 photo, Princess Margaret is walking along the platform at Kings Cross Station with two of her dogs (a terrier and a spaniel). A lady-in-waiting is following along with yet a third dog.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew

The whole family with a favorite Corgi

This 1968 photo shows Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward with one of their pet Corgis. Here’s why Queen Elizabeth isn’t planning on abdicating.

Princess Anne
Geoff White/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Princess Anne and her “Pleasure”

Princess Anne, who grew up to become Anne, Princess Royal, is not only a lover of dogs but a lover of horses. Here she’s seen in 1975 with her dog that she named “Pleasure.” Here’s why the Princess Royal does not shake hands with the public.

Princess Anne plus others on beach
Mike Forster/Associated Newspapers/Shutterstock

A royal beach outing with doggies

In 1987, royal siblings Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward frolicked with Prince Andrew’s newlywed wife, Sarah Ferguson, and two adorable retrievers on the beach near Sandringham.

Princess Diana and Prince Harry
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Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry, and a pup

When Harry was just a wee lad, he took a brief pause from his holiday in Majorca, Spain for this photo with a small dog he was playing with on a set of stone steps, his mum, Diana, Princess of Wales beside him. The year was 1987, and the Wales family was visiting the Spanish Royal Family, which also has a famous fondness for four-legged friends.

Prince William's Dog

Prince William’s Dog, Widgeon

Here Tiggy Legge Bourke, royal nanny to Prince William and Prince Harry, walks the princes’ black Labrador retriever, Widgeon. Of course, Labs are super-popular in the United States. Here’s the favorite breed of every state.

Queen Elizabeth II and her Dorgi
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Queen Elizabeth II and her “Dorgi”

Think Queen Elizabeth II is all about the Corgis? Here she’s pictured in 2009 with a beloved “Dorgi,” a cross between a Dachshund and a Corgi. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were also fans of dachshunds, which surged in popularity in the 1840s thanks to the wiener-dog-loving royals.

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla and her Jack Russell

Like her husband Prince Charles and the rest of the royal family, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall adores dogs. Here she’s pictured in December 2012 with her best pal, Bluebell, a Jack Russell Terrier who is now one of the most famous modern royal dogs. Here’s why Charles didn’t marry Camilla in the first place, despite their obvious compatibility.

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle fits in perfectly with this family of dog lovers

Prince Harry and his new bride, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have recently adopted a rescue dog, a Labrador retriever who they’ve named “Oz.” But long before that, Meghan had a darling dog of her own, a Beagle called “Guy,” whom she brought to London with her from Canada. While we wait to see photos of Harry and Meghan’s growing dog brood, we shall have to content ourselves with this photo of the couple playing with two dogs belonging to Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland, while on a visit to the country this past summer. Next, find out 50 things you never knew about the British royal family.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.