Queen Elizabeth is known for her love of animals, especially the dog breed that had its own dynasty starting with the pet the monarch received as an 18th birthday gift
Queen Elizabeth was remembered in a special — and very fitting — way on Sunday.
A group of about 20 royal fans and their pet corgis took part in a parade outside Buckingham Palace in London to mark the upcoming first anniversary of the late monarch's death. The animals were decked out for the occasion in crowns, tiaras and other royal outfits.
Agatha Crerer-Gilbert, who organized the memorial event, told the Associated Press she hopes the parade takes place every year in the future. "I can't see a better way to remember her than through her corgis, through the breed that she loved and cherished through her life," she said of Queen Elizabeth, who died on Sept. 8, 2022, at age 96.
"You know, I can't still get used to the fact that she's not physically around us, but she's looking at us. Look, the sun is shining, I thought it would shine on us today," Crerer-Gilbert added.
Crerar-Gilbert and her husband, Fernando, are the proud pet parents of 5-year-old Cardigan Welsh corgi Ruffus, who participated in the parade in costume, and they said they will “carry on the royal tradition of always having a corgi," adding that corgi owners will forever be indebted to the Queen.
"Many of us feel that manifesting our lasting respect and love for the Queen is best expressed through a coming together of the corgi community,” Crerar-Gilbert said. "Corgis are very playful and bring smiles to many faces. After the Queen’s death, they helped to lift the mood, and I think she would have very much approved of this gathering. It feels like the perfect way to honor her legacy.”
Caroline Perry, the author of The Corgi and the Queen, says the anniversary of the Queen’s passing is a time of great significance for corgi owners.
"From when she was a very young girl, Elizabeth was besotted with the breed,” she tells PEOPLE. Queen Elizabeth's lifelong love for the corgi breed began in 1933 when her father, the soon-to-be King George VI, brought home a corgi named Dookie from a local kennel. A second corgi, named Jane, soon followed.
Perry adds, “And on her 18th birthday the only gift she wanted was a corgi puppy of her own. That dog, Susan, was the matriarch of a regal dog dynasty, with 30 corgis directly descended from the pup who many consider to be one of the true loves of Elizabeth’s life."
In addition to corgis, Queen Elizabeth was also a dog mom dachshund-corgi mixes known as "dorgis," a breed she's credited with creating!
Her faithful furry companions enjoyed lives of luxury, including an elaborate menu of foods that Queen Elizabeth would often hand-feed to them herself, according to former royal chef Darren McGrady. The pups also went on daily walks with the late monarch and rode with her in limousines and on private planes.
Perry says that Queen Elizabeth was a very hands-on owner. “She fed the corgis herself and trained them so that each dog would wait patiently until it was his or her time to eat. She walked them every day. She made each dog their very own Christmas stocking, filled with little treats. She knew all of their personalities, and their likes and dislikes. Corgis are very charming and spirited dogs, but the Queen was the alpha of her pack!"
Ahead of Queen Elizabeth's committal service following her state funeral last year, the corgis were on hand to welcome her coffin at Windsor Castle. Photos captured two dogs standing with a pair of aides as they waited to bid their final goodbyes to their devoted owner.
Perry says, "The Queen orchestrated every element of her funeral, knowing that it would be watched by many millions across the globe. The fact that she organized for her two corgis, Muick and Sandy, to wait for her coffin as it entered Windsor Castle, on its way to her final resting place, is testament to how much these dogs meant to her. There is no doubt that a corgi parade would have given her immense joy.”
"The corgis will return to live at Royal Lodge with the Duke and Duchess. It was the Duchess who found the puppies, which were gifted to Her Majesty by the Duke," a source close to the Duke said.
Fergie — as Sarah, the Duchess of York is known — told PEOPLE earlier this year that the corgis are "national icons, so every time they run chasing a squirrel, I panic. But they're total joys, and I always think that when they bark at nothing, and there's no squirrels in sight, I believe it's because the Queen is passing by."
Queen Elizabeth's special connection to her corgis will be immortalized in a new statue set to be erected in England's East Midlands. According to photos published by The Telegraph in July, the seven-foot-tall sculpture depicts Queen Elizabeth standing in ceremonial robes with one of her corgis at her feet. It was commissioned by the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland to be placed outside a local library.
“I wanted something that reflected Her Majesty as a Queen rather than as a person for posterity,” Dr. Sarah Furness, the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, told the outlet. “But we wanted to do something that reflected her warmth and humanity too.”
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Sculptor Hywel Brân Pratley, who is adding two more corgis to the unfinished sculpture, explained why he chose to make the dogs a centerpiece of the statue.
“I very quickly thought that I would like to have a corgi nestling in her robes by her feet because what a great symbol it is, artistically, of her being mother of a nation," Pratley told The Telegraph. "The dogs and us able to shelter under Her Majesty."
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