What It Was Like To Celebrate Christmas With Queen Elizabeth's Corgis

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom loved her corgis. She had more than 30 of them during her reign. It was the longest in British history, stretching over more than seven decades from 1952 until her death on September 8, 2022. During that time, her dogs would become an integral part of her public persona as well as a private passion. Beyond the numerous photographs in which her pups appeared, they were beloved by the queen.

"My corgis are family," she once said (via Vanity Fair). So it makes sense that her "family" would partake in the royal's Christmas celebrations that were held at Sandringham House each year. Caroline Perry, the author of "The Corgi and the Queen," told People that Queen Elizabeth would make up special Christmas stockings for each of her dogs that included toys and treats, and while the humans feasted, so did the dogs — on their own special menu.

A long love affair with the breed

The first two royal Pembroke Welsh corgis were named Dookie and Jane and belonged to Queen Elizabeth II's father, King George VI, per Vanity Fair. Elizabeth quickly fell in love with the pair. In 1936, John Murray published the children's picture book "Our Princesses and Their Dogs," kicking off the public-facing relationship between the future queen and the breed. Eventually, the Royal Family gave Elizabeth her own corgi, Susan, when she turned 18. Over the years, the queen's love for the short-legged, independent-minded breed led her to begin a breeding program that also included dorgis, a cross between a corgi and a dachshund, per People.

Elizabeth took good care of her pups. Dr. Roger Mugford, an animal behaviorist who helped Elizabeth train her dogs, recalled that the queen oversaw the corgi's diets and personally fed them. "The queen is a great believer in homeopathy and herbal medicines, and each dog has a unique menu," he told Town & Country in 2015. But as expected with British royalty, the corgis' food was carried in by a butler and served in "exotic porcelain bowls." And each year, as Christmas neared, the queen and her corgis would head to their royal retreat in Norfolk by train.

Stockings and feasting

The former royal chef, Darren McGrady, told Yahoo Life UK that the annual Christmas celebration at Sandringham House took "months of planning" and was "literally" a "military operation" that involved hauling the food and equipment via army trucks from Buckingham Palace to the country estate. While the human royals dined on boar's head, turkey, foie gras, Christmas puddings, and mince pies, the royal corgis had their own feast. "We also actually had another menu which was the royal corgis menu so we had to feed the corgis too," McGrady recalled.

Author Caroline Perry told People the meal consisted of "finely diced" meat "to be certain there were no bones," and like every other of the corgis' meals, the queen served them. Besides the feast, the dogs had another event to look forward to during the holiday. "She would make each one of her precious pups a personalized stocking, filled with little toys and favorite treats," Perry said. "She loved watching them 'open' their gifts on Christmas morning!" But, if the dogs got too rambunctious with the toys, Elizabeth would personally remove the offending squeakers — or at least that was the rumor, according to "The Wicked Wit of Queen Elizabeth II."