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Pampered life of a royal dog is revealed

HOMOEOPATHIC remedies are said to be the preferred choice of the Queen for any Royal racehorse who happens to be off his oats. Her ancestors, however, had a greater faith in the power of the orthodox medicines of their time.

The Princess of Wales - later Queen Alexandra - had frequent prescriptions filled for her dogs, Billie, Fluffy, and Punch. Billie it seems, was a touch arthritic, needing regular doses of sodium salicylate to relieve stiff joints.

Billie's prescription is one of hundreds preserved in spidery, copper-plate script in a battered physician's and pharmacist's ledger, dated 1899-1900, included in a sale of medical memorabilia at Christie's on Thursday.

The origin of the ledger is unknown, although a clue is given in the flyleaf. A note referring to a Dr Marley Sims, suggests that he should be contacted 'if there is a problem with the Duke of York's tonic'.

It is clear that the owner of the ledger, which is expected to sell for between pounds 300 and pounds 500, treated only the cream of London society and European aristocracy. Alongside the names of Billie, Fluffy and Punch, the Princess of Wales and the Duke of York (later King George V), are those of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII); the Duchess of York (Queen Mary); Prince Edward of York, who became Edward VIII; and Prince Albert of York (later King George VI).

Unlike the infamous ledgers from A R Clark's Chemists at Braemar, Deeside, which showed that the royal family and their guests at Balmoral between 1897 and 1914 were well-dosed with opium and cocaine-based remedies - this ledger records treatments for what appear to be only minor ailments.

Ammonia carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and ammonium citrate are the principal components of the medicines, with plenty of chloroform water and camphor.

The Christie's sale also includes Prince Albert's medicine chest, expected to fetch between pounds 1,200 and pounds 1,800. The leather travelling case is filled with bottles, ointment pots, pill boxes and a number of prescriptions which show that he suffered from stomach and bowel problems in the years leading up to his death in 1861 at the age of 42.

Another lot is the exquisite dental instruments, with mother-of pearl handles and silver gilt mounts, which were made for the dental surgeon Sir Edwin Saunders to be used only when he treated Queen Victoria. It is expected to sell for between pounds 15,000 and pounds 18,000.

(Photograph omitted)