How the Queen's loyal corgis became her 'secret weapon' in royal diplomacy

Martha Fairlie reports on the vital role the Queen's corgis played in her reign, and her life

The public very rarely got a glimpse of the Queen's corgis throughout her reign.

But when they did, her love for her dogs shone through.

Her Majesty's corgis famously appeared alongside her, with James Bond actor Daniel Craig in a short film made for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

The late monarch's love for the breed stretched back to her childhood.

It was her father, King George VI, who gave her her first corgi.

Historical footage shows the role the corgis played - frequently stealing the show from the young Princess.

But the corgis weren't just pets - they were her secret weapon to royal diplomacy.

And, on at least one occasion, the Queen's corgis were said to have helped her go incognito to experience a moment of an 'ordinary' life.

The Queen with one of her corgis in 1968 Credit: PA

Over the course of a seventy year reign, the Queen entertained hundreds of foreign dignitaries.

The ice was broken with presidents, prime ministers, and royalty as the corgis would be let into events to mingle with guests.

Beyond events of state, animal behavioural scientist Roger Mugford suggests that the dogs allowed the Queen to experience some normality, away from the cameras.

Remembering one occasion, he said, "She drove herself from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, with the dogs on board in a beat-up old Vauxhall."

The Queen being greeted by local corgi enthusiasts in Edmonton, Canada during her visit in 2005 Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA

"Those ten dogs were just like you or I going on holiday to the country - and she was disguised in a headscarf and nobody knew that the Queen was driving herself up and down the M4 motorway."

"I think they were a huge part of her life," agreed Mary Davies, a corgi exhibitor from Pembrokeshire.

"It was a chance for her to be just herself, and not have to worry about Royal protocols and things.

"She could just relax and be with the corgis."

What will happen to the Queen's corgis?

Following Her Majesty's death, it was announced that her son Prince Andrew and his ex-wife would take care of two of the Queen's corgis.

The Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson will take care of Muick and Sandy.

The late monarch was gifted two puppies by Andrew at Windsor during last year's lockdown.

They kept the monarch entertained while her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, was in hospital.

The Queen with one of her corgis. Credit: PA

The Queen named one of the puppies - Fergus the dorgi - after her uncle, who was killed in action during the First World War.

She named the other corgi Muick (pronounced Mick) after Loch Muick on the Balmoral estate.

But the monarch was devastated when five-month-old Fergus died just weeks after he was gifted to her, in the aftermath of Philip’s death.

He was later replaced with a new corgi puppy named Sandy, from Andrew's daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, for the Queen's 95th birthday.