After Queen Elizabeth married Prince Philip on November 20, 1947, she wanted a special companion to stand by her side: her corgi, Susan. The monarch's furry friend played a secret role in the royal wedding that nobody knew about, according to Caroline Perry, author of The Corgi and the Queen, which documents the queen’s relationship with her dog. While the royal couple rode in a carriage on the way to their honeymoon after the wedding, Susan was hiding underneath a rug with hot water to keep her warm, Perry explains. Although thousands of people gathered around the couple to send them off on their romantic getaway, no one had any idea that Susan was present.
"That was such a lovely detail, that she wanted to have her best friend by her side on the biggest day of her life," Perry tells People. "You can kind of see from Elizabeth's face. She was beaming."
The Pembroke Welsh corgi tagged along for the rest of the journey and even made it to the honeymoon. Once Elizabeth and Philip arrived at Waterloo Station, they took a train to Hampshire—with Susan in tow. While the royal couple was enjoying their honeymoon, Susan was also soaking up the trip. The corgi was photographed playing outside with the couple on the vacation.
Susan wasn’t just a friendly companion for the Queen’s wedding. After Elizabeth received the corgi as a gift for her 18th birthday, the dog helped her adjust to huge life changes, from World War II to her new role as queen at just 25-years-old.
Starting with Susan, the monarch established a long line of corgis and dorgis (corgis bred with dachshunds) that spanned over 14 generations, and they all descended from Susan. “A lot of people wonder why she chose the corgi breed," Perry tells People. "People who have corgis will tell you, they're such amazing dogs, but not easy dogs. They're very spirited. Some of her corgis did get into scrapes. Susan did get in trouble a couple of times. Even for a very experienced dog handler like the queen, corgis are not for novice dog owners.”
Perry thinks the queen chose the corgi breed because it gave her an ounce of control over her life and an emotional outlet. “The fact that she loved them so much, I think it speaks to the fact that she wasn't able to express her emotions and feelings,” Perry explains. “She really used her dogs as an expression of herself. She couldn't choose her life, but she could choose her companions. The fact that these corgis are so spirited, so lively and so mischievous, I think in some way that was her way of expressing how she felt inside but wasn't able to convey. She was so prim and proper and never put a foot wrong, did she? Yet these naughty dogs are doing all kinds of things that maybe she wished she could do."
Elizabeth decided to stop breeding her corgis' descendant from Susan in 2012 because she didn’t want to leave any behind, according to People. Then, in March of 2021, the queen received two puppies, but when one of them died, Prince Andrew gave her another dog.
At the queen’s funeral on September 19, 2022, her two corgis, Muick and Sandy, were present for the service, which Perry thinks was intentional. “[Elizabeth] had overseen almost all aspects of her funeral before she passed, so she must have wanted the dogs to have been there at the exact moment,” Perry notes.