Queen Elizabeth’s corgis, pony: The role animals played in the funeral

LONDON — The world watched as Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin made its way towards Windsor Castle, the British monarch’s final resting place. Her two corgi dogs and beloved pony watched, too.

Elizabeth was the head of state and had important constitutional duties. But those close to her talk about how she was happiest living life as a countrywoman, enjoying her animals’ company.

So it was perhaps fitting that those three favorites were present during the finale of the ceremonial procession.

Corgis Muick and Sandy were brought outside Windsor Castle ahead of the coffin’s arrival on the Long Walk, a 2.6-mile avenue that leads to the castle.

And just off the avenue, saddled but riderless, her Fell pony Emma was also waiting.

The queen is said to have tolerated London’s Buckingham Palace. She much preferred Windsor Castle, where she could ride her horses, and she was frequently seen trotting through Windsor Great Park. Castle staff would proudly tell visitors that she thought of Windsor as “home” and London as “the office.”

At the start of the pandemic, she moved her primary residence to Windsor — and showed no interest in leaving even when restrictions were lifted. Her corgis remained with her there.

One of the public’s greatest concerns when the queen died was where Muick and Sandy would go. A spokesperson for Prince Andrew subsequently confirmed that they will simply change residences on the estate, moving in with the prince and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. (Although divorced, the couple lives together at Royal Lodge on the grounds.)

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While the queen had other breeds over her long lifetime, she loved corgis above all others. She reportedly had more than 30 in her lifetime; Princess Diana once called them a “moving carpet.”

Her corgi Susan, which she got when she was 18, came along on her honeymoon — and started a royal breeding line that produced hundreds of puppies. Three of those descendants would go on to appear with the queen when she teamed up with Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, in a sketch for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics.

The queen also had a lifelong passion for horses and rode into her 90s. Earlier this year, health issues forced her to miss the State Opening of Parliament — an important date on the royal calendar — but a few days later she was driven to the Royal Windsor Horse Show to watch her horses take part in the events.

Some of those creatures played a prominent role on Monday.

The queen was commissioner-in-chief of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and helping to lead the funeral procession in London were four horses with the RCMP Musical Ride that were gifted to her during her reign.

Margaret Rhodes, a close friend and first cousin of the queen, once told the BBC: “It’s wonderful when she gets a few days of non-duty she can do the things she likes, and that is, being a country person, going for walks with the dogs, and thinking about doggy and horsy things.”

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