A dog's life (and death) gives paws for thought

It's almost the end of the line for the Queen's corgi entourage after Olympic star Monty passes on.

Share

It may have escaped your attention, what with Britain's post-Olympic festival of self-congratulation followed by Andy Murray's victory in New York, but one of the figures who helped launch this "amazing summer" (copyright: every athlete interviewed during the victory parade) died last weekend. Can you even remember how it all started?

Yes, with Danny Boyle's remarkable imagining of British culture and history, and with that startling sequence of the Queen being escorted to the stadium by James Bond. And there, alongside them, was Monty, a 13-year-old corgi who seemed to get as many close-ups as Daniel Craig and whose performance should have been enough to get him an Equity card. And now, after a gilded life in which he ate only organic meat cooked by the Royal staff and was fed marmalade on toast every morning by the Monarch, he is being laid to rest at Balmoral.

The Queen, who is said to have cried only once in public - when Britannia, the Royal Yacht, was taken out of service in 1997 - will do well to fight back the tears. This is partly because Monty's death will give an 86-year-old woman a very real sense of her own mortality. Monty, like her remaining two corgis, Willow and Holly (she also has two corgi-dachshund crosses), has a lineage that goes back all the way to Susan, the dog that the then Princess Elizabeth was given for her 18th birthday and who became the matriarch in a canine family tree that's equivalent to the House of Windsor.

Down the years, the Queen has replaced those of her corgi entourage – which once numbered double figures – who died, but she decided a few years ago not to continue this process. She wanted to let the line come to a natural end, and with Monty's demise, that reality comes that much closer.

Corgis are not everyone's cup of tea, and by all accounts, they are not the most popular members of the Royal household. They are snappy, rather bolshie, characters for whom everyone's calves are fair game for a sharp nip (they were bred as cattle herders in Wales, and are hard-wired to keep you moving).

In the wake of the Jubilee and then the Olympics, there was a surge in their popularity, but those who are attracted by their cheeky looks and devil-may-care personality should know that, even with impeccable upbringing, these dogs are no strangers to the odd Asbo.

They are no respecters of authority, or even majesty. In 1991, the Queen herself required three stitches in her hand when one of her corgis bit her as she attempted to break up a fight. And earlier this year, Princess Beatrice was distraught when Max, her 11-year-old Norfolk terrier, was attacked by the resident corgis at Balmoral and was left with very serious injuries.

As the Queen says farewell to Monty, she won't be thinking of this incident. Nor probably of the day she played the straight woman to James Bond. She'll surely be reflecting on more mortal matters, and how, through the life cycle of our pets, we prepare ourselves for a final reconciliation of our own.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker