Corgis were almost certainly first to mourn
LONDON, U.K.–– Queen Elizabeth II, 96, who ceremonially ruled the United Kingdom for 70 years and 214 days, died on September 8, 2022 at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, one of the three royal hunting estates.
The others are the 20,000-acre Sandringham estate, in Norfolk, England, and Dalnadamph, a 6,700-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands purchased by the Queen in 1978.
First among the Queen’s mourners were almost certainly her four dogs: two corgis, a dorgi (Dachshund/corgi mix) and a cocker spaniel, Lissy, the youngest dog in the royal family, acquired in January 2022.
The corgis were descendants of a line kept by the royal family since 1933, managed by the Queen herself since her eighteenth birthday in 1944.
Princess Anne’s pit bull terrier killed one of Queen’s corgis
The Queen was reportedly distraught at Christmas 2003, after her corgi Pharos was fatally mauled on Christmas Eve by the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne’s bull terrier, a pit bull variant.
Reported The Daily Mail, “The dog, called Dotty, launched a ferocious attack within moments of arriving at Sandringham. Pharos had no chance of escape after the terrier’s powerful jaws clamped on one of his back legs.
“Footmen helped Anne and the Queen pull the dogs apart, but Pharos was so badly hurt he had to be put down.
“Dotty, short for Dorothy, has a history of viciousness,” The Daily Mail added. “Last year (2002) she landed the princess in court after biting two boys in Windsor Great Park,” surrounding Windsor Castle, another of the royal residences.
“Anne became the first member of the Royal Family ever to acquire a criminal record when she was fined £500 after admitting she let the dog run out of control.”
Said a spokesperson from Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence, the Queen “is extremely close to her dogs. They are almost like children to her. To lose one in this way is doubly sad. Pharos was one of her oldest dogs and was always at his mistress’s feet.”
“Britain’s most privileged pets”
The Queen’s dogs, summarized The Daily Mail, “have enjoyed life as Britain’s most privileged pets. They live in palaces and castles, travel in chauffeur-driven limousines, fly by private plane or helicopter, and are carried down aircraft steps by aides. When they are seen trotting up or down aircraft steps, this is simply because one wants to reach her mistress in a hurry and the others follow.
“They live in a closet that holds their wicker baskets, raised a few inches off the floor to avoid draughts. It is situated in the royal apartments, around which the dogs wander at will.
“Whenever possible, the Queen is the one who exercises them in the palace grounds––and feeds them off silver salvers, or from scraps thrown from her own table.”
Queen Elizabeth II’s love for her corgis was perhaps what she was best known for among the public.
Her ceremonial roles, however, all inherited from previous royalty, also included serving as patron of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds––and, emblematic of the family addiction to blood sports, the National Rifle Association of Great Britain.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901, reigning from 1837 until her death, became patron of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, founded in 1824, as one of her first official acts. The organization became officially the Royal SPCA three years later.
Queen Elizabeth II remained patron of the Royal SPCA to her death despite a ten-year campaign by several former members of the RSPCA governing council, 2004-2014, to surrender the “Royal” title and oust the Queen as patron, in protest of her tacit approval of fox hunting, captive-reared bird shooting, and other blood sports pursued by royal family members.
Battersea & Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
The Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, begun in 1860 as The Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs, survived the 1865 death of founder Mary Tealby, of whom almost nothing is documented, moved from a stable near the Newgate prison to its current Battersea site in 1871, was saved from bankruptcy by an article by Charles Dickens, and came under the patronage of Queen Victoria in 1885.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was formed by the 1891 merger of two organizations founded separately two years earlier, The Plumage League begun by Emily Williamson from her home in Didsbury, Manchester, and the Fur, Fin & Feather Folk, begun by Eliza Phillips, Etta Lemon, Catherine Hall, and Hannah Poland in Croydon, South London.
Both organizations were begun in opposition to the use of feathers in fashion, especially in hat-making.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds gained royal patronage from King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria.
NRA of Great Britain
The National Rifle Association of Great Britain was formed in 1859 “for the promotion of marksmanship in the interests of Defence of the Realm,” twelve years before the formation of the National Rifle Association of the United States.
Queen Victoria conferred royal patronage on the NRA of Great Britain in 1860, and fired the first shot at the inaugural meeting of the newly incorporated organization.
Seigneur of the Swans
The oldest of Elizabeth II’s royal titles associated with animals, however, may have been Seigneur of the Swans, or Lord of the Swans, a title originating in the 12th century with either Henry II (1154-1189), Richard the Lionhearted (1189-1199), or possibly King John (1199-1216).
The title Seigneur of the Swans originally signified that only the reigning monarch could kill a mute swan or order a mute swan to be killed for the table.
Royal authority over mute swans was eventually diminished only to the mute swans inhabiting the Thames River. A five-day census of mute swans called Swan Upping has evolved into a conservation event similar to the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count held in the U.S.
Royal family involvement in blood sports, already controversial during Queen Victoria’s reign, first rekindled public outrage during the tenure of Queen Elizabeth II when her husband Prince Philip (1921-2021) reportedly shot 15,500 captive-raised birds at Sandringham in a five-week spree coinciding with the 1961 distribution of one of the first fundraising appeals that he signed as a founding patron of the World Wildlife Fund.
During a six-week spree at Christmas 1987, after Philip became titular head of the World Wildlife Fund, he and his three sons with Queen Elizabeth II, Charles, Andrew, and Edward broke Philip’s previous record for sustained bloodshed by shooting nearly 18,000 captive-raised pigeons, pheasants, partridges, ducks, geese, and rabbits at Sandringham.
King Charles III
Charles, now officially King Charles III, ascended to the throne upon his mother’s death.
Introducing Harry and his brother William to hunting at the ages of seven and 10, respectively, against the wishes of their late mother Princess Diana, Charles and friends reportedly shot 12,000 pheasants at Sandringham at Christmas 1991.
ABC News reported on November 20, 2000 Elizabeth II “delivered a silent rebuke to animal rights activists who objected to her killing a wounded game bird with her bare hands.
“A day after she was criticized for wringing the neck of a pheasant who had been peppered with shot,” ABC News explained, “the queen went to church on Sunday wearing pheasant feathers in her hat.
Sold dead partridge & pheasant in souvenir shop
“The wounded pheasant had been retrieved by one of the queen’s dogs.”
Elizabeth II further thumbed her nose at animal advocates in October 2001 by offering
bagged partridge and pheasant shot by family members for sale at the Windsor Castle gift shop.
The Queen was again photographed in the act of killing a wounded pheasant, this time bludgeoning the pheasant with her walking stick, at a Sandringham shoot in January 2004.
Later in 2004, Philip and several friends blasted birds at Sandringham in front of children from a nearby school, many of whom belonged to the school bird-watching club, an affiliate of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Staff chased deer with off-road vehicles
Other members of the royal family and their retinue were investigated many times during the reign of Elizabeth II for cruelty in connection with hunting and maintaining animals to be hunted.
The Scottish SPCA, for example, in February 1996 questioned staff at the Balmoral and Dalnadamph estates about allegations that they illegally culled deer by chasing them into pens with
During the first decade of the present century, scandals involving the hunting-related activities of the royal family occurred more-or-less annually.
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Music, for instance, in March 2005 offered a dish of cooked swan to two police officers who visited his home to question him about the death of the swan, which occurred in apparent violation of the royal role at Seigneur of the Swans.
Davies got off with a warning after claiming that the swan was killed by flying into a power line.
Sons of Monarchy
Sandringham gamekeeper Dean Wright, 26, was in November 2006 fined £500 for having allegedly setting a rat trap in December 2005 that snared a tawny owl.
The Royal SPCA in January 2007 reportedly investigated an incident at Sandringham in which members of a hunting party led by Philip allegedly first shot and then bludgeoned a fox.
The hunting-related exploits of the Queen’s grandson Prince Harry, however, most often filled the Fleet Street tabloids.
Prince Harry’s then-girlfriend Chelsea Davy in 2007 promoted her father’s Zimbabwean hunting concession at the annual convention of Safari Club International in Las Vegas.
Harry & the hen harrier
Most controversially, however, Prince Harry of Britain and two companions escaped prosecution for allegedly killing two hen harriers, a protected species, at Sandringham on October 24, 2007, while nominally hunting ducks and pigeons.
The Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said in a November 7, 2007 prepared statement that “The bodies of the hen harriers have not been found and there is no forensic or ballistic evidence. Witnesses also heard unexplained shooting in the area before the three suspects said they were present at the scene, so other people cannot be ruled out. The three suspects, who were interviewed by police, all denied that the birds were killed by them.”
Reported Jack Malvern of The Times of London, “The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the shooting was reported by a conservation warden monitoring harriers” at the Dersingham Bog Nature Reserve, run by the conservation agency Natural England at the edge of the Sandringham estate.
“The unnamed warden saw the birds being hit, but did not see the shooter, the society said.”
John Robins asked Queen to stop deer cull
John Frederick Robins, longtime campaigns manager and corporate secretary for Animal Concern Scotland, in April 2012 appealed to Elizabeth II to intervene against a roe deer cull undertaken by the Aberdeen City Council.
The cull was “to make way for tree-planting under the auspices of The Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods initiative to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee,” Robins explained.
Robins’ appeal predictably failed.
Elizabeth II endorsed the Conibear trap
Elizabeth II took a more nuanced and rather inconsistent view of fur-trapping and wearing fur.
Scots-born Charles D. Niven, best known as author of a 1967 History of the Humane Movement, formed the Canadian Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals in 1931 and initiated a 30-year effort “to develop a humane trap to replace the common leg-hold trap,” according to the web page of The Fur-Bearers, a Vancouver-based organization descended from Niven’s organization.
Trapper and author Frank Conibear (1896-1988) between 1953 and 1957 introduced a “quick-kill” trap endorsed by a breakaway group, the Ottawa-based Canadian Association of Humane Trapping.
The Canadian Association of Humane Trapping replaced leghold traps with Conibear traps for free, to help them catch on.
Films showed premise of the Conibear trap was incorrect
By 1961 the Conibear trap was also endorsed by the American Humane Association.
Queen Elizabeth II in 1970 honored Frank Conibear in person for inventing the so-called humane trap.
But also circa 1970, George and Bunty Clements, initially of Hart Lake, British Columbia, and later longtime residents of Langley, British Columbia, came to head the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.
Reviewing films of Conibear traps in use, George and Bunty Clements realized that this so-called “humane trap” actually worked much like an old-fashioned leghold trap most of the time. They eventually retitled the organization The Fur-Bearers, and reoriented it toward total opposition to fur trapping.
Endorsed fake fur, but continued to wear fur
The Queen’s approval of the Conibear trap handed a major propaganda victory to the fur trapping industry.
In November 2019, however, at the height of annual retail fur sales, Queen Elizabeth II announced through her communications secretary that, “As new outfits are designed for the Queen, any fur used will be fake.”
But the Queen also made clear her intent to continue wearing her existing wardrobe of furs.
Despite that, CBC North reporter John Last said nearly two years later that the announcement had continued to depress fur trapping in the Northwest Territories.
Queen’s Guard still wears dead bears
At the same time, Queen Elizabeth II resisted protests begun in 2005 asking that the Queen’s Guard replace their traditional tall bearskin hats with synthetic fur.
As recently as February 11, 2022 the Queen’s Guard affirmed that, “Currently we have no plans to end the use of bearskins. Bear pelts that are used,” the Queen’s Guard claimed, “are the by-products of a licensed cull by the Canadian authorities to manage the wild bear population.”
Toward the end of her life and reign, Elizabeth II in 2004, 2019, and 2021 used her throne speech opening each session of Parliament––or allowed it to be used by follow-up speakers––to introduce new animal protection legislation.
The Queen’s speech of October 16, 2019 confirmed that legislation would be introduced to prohibit the import of trophies from endangered and threatened species, the closest the Queen ever came to criticizing hunting.
Order of the British Empire
The Queen’s most prominent role associated with animal advocacy over the years was conferring Membership in the Order of the British Empire, the highest national honor presented to British civilians and citizens of other Commonwealth nations, essentially a lifetime achievement award.
Appointees are recognized in five ranks, from Knight or Dame Grand Cross down through Knight or Dame Commander; Commander; Officer; and Member.
Appointments above the level of Member are usually presented for outstanding accomplishments subsequent to first winning admission to membership.
A selection committee chooses individuals who are widely recognized as leaders in their respective fields to be honored on each official Queen’s Birthday, a summer occasional separate from the Queen’s actual chronological birthday.
Under Elizabeth II, typically from one to three honorees each year were honored for achievements in animal welfare.
Where are opponents of sport hunting?
ANIMALS 24-7 has assembled, below, a partial list of Members of the Order of the British Empire who have been honored since 1974 for contributions to animal welfare.
It is an illustrious roster, but appears to conspicuously omit animal advocates who have been chiefly known for opposition to sport hunting––especially fox hunting, bird shooting, and trophy hunting, the hunting pursuits in which the British royal family have been most conspicuously involved.
Two exceptions are Major General Peter Davies, an outspoken opponent of sport hunting, who was honored for his military service before becoming known in the animal welfare field, and Queen guitarist Brian May, who was honored “for services to the music industry and for charity work,” with no mention made of his animal advocacy.
Brian Davies may be most conspicuous omission
International Fund for Animal Welfare, Political Animal Lobby, and Network for Animals founder Brian Davies, arguably the most influential animal advocate worldwide over the past half century, especially among British citizens, and especially influential in opposition to fox hunting, “has never been named to the Order of the British Empire,” longtime Davies associate Paul Seigel confirmed to ANIMALS 24-7.
“In my opinion––and no doubt in the opinions of most who are familiar with all that he has accomplished for animals––this seems an egregious oversight,” Seigel said. “But he has not been nominated. I don’t think he is hurt by the oversight. This said, I can assure you he would be honored to be recognized.”
Recipients of Queen’s Birthday honors for animal advocacy & welfare:
1974: Wildlife film maker and author David Attenborough. Attenborough was subsequently knighted in 1985 and awarded the Order of Merit in 2005.
1977: Author Farley Mowat received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal.
1980: Donkey Sanctuary founder Elizabeth Svendsen.
1982: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Jersey Zoo founder Gerald Durrell.
1992: Major General Peter Davies, then Colonel Commandant of the Royal Signals. Davies went on to head the Royal SPCA for eleven years, and the World Society for Protection of Animals for seven years, along with chairing the board of trustees for the Brooke Hospital for Animals, serving as president of Eurogroup for Animal Welfare, and heading the Animals in War Memorial Fund.
1995: Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Foundation, promoted to Dame Commander in 2004.
1998: Animals Asia Foundation founder Jill Robinson.
2001: David & Sheila Siddle, cofounders in 1983 of the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia.
2002: Michael Balls, a trustee of the Fund for Replacing Animals Medical Experiments beginning in 1979, who headed the organization from 1981 to 2013.
2003: Clarissa Baldwin, longtime chair of Dogs Trust, who was also made a Dame of the British Empire (see Humane innovator Clarissa Baldwin retires from Dogs Trust); Belinda Wright, founder of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (1994); and Anita Roddick (1943-2007), founder of The Body Shop cosmetics and personal care products empire, known for use of the slogan “Against animal testing.”
2004: Virginia McKenna, who played Joy Adamson in the 1966 film Born Free and went on to cofound the Born Free Foundation with her husband Bill Travers and their son Will Travers.
2005: Care For The Wild founder Bill Jordan, later head of the Bill Jordan Wildlife Defence Fund; Brian May, Queen guitarist, “for services to the music industry and for charity work,” not mentioning his leading role in opposition to fox hunting; and Charles Mayhew, founder of Tusk in 1990, a nonprofit organization with a mission to “amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa.”
2006: International Animal Rescue cofounder Alan Knight, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust founder Daphne Sheldrick (see Daphne Sheldrick, 83, showed Kenya that wildlife is worth most when alive); the late Stella Brewer Marsden, founder of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association sanctuary in Gambia; and primatologist and film maker Ian Redmond.
2008: International Primate Protection League founder Shirley McGreal.
2009: Jean Gilchrist, who for 50 years headed the Kenya SPCA in Nairobi, Kenya.
2010: Jan Salter, who founded the Kathmandu Animal Treatment (KAT) Centre in Nepal in 2004, heading it until her death in 2018. (See Jan Salter, 82, mastered the arts of animal & human aid in Kathmandu.)
2012: Will Travers, heading the Born Free Foundation since 1991 and the Species Survival Network since 1992; and Trevor Weeks, founder of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue.
2013: Elizabeth Oliver, who in 1990 founded and still heads the Animal Refuge Kansai in Osaka, Japan. Oliver was honored despite having written in 2002 that, “In 1973 Japan hastily adopted the present Animal Protection and Control Law, just before a visit to Japan by Queen Elizabeth II
of Britain. But the law was designed to protect people from animals, not the other way around. It was ineffective, was unknown to many of the authorities who were supposed to enforce it, and included no definition of cruelty. The handful of successful prosecutions have typically won fines of less than one would get for stealing a bicycle.”
2016: British Hen Welfare Trust founder Jane Howorth.
2017: Michael Calvert Appleby, formerly World Animal Protection chief scientific adviser; Mary Barton, board member, Royal SPCA of Australia since 1999; Sally Jane Hyman, chair of trustees, Royal SPCA Llys Nini Branch; and Helen Jones, first female president of the Australian Veterinary Association (1982), vice chair of the World Veterinary Congress organizing committee 1979-1983, and trustee, SAVE the African Rhino Foundation.
2019: Christine Townend, founder of Animal Liberation Australia (1976); cofounder, Animals Australia, 1980, and trustee since 2017; founder, Darjeeling Goodwill Animal Shelter (India), 1980, and trustee since 1993; joint managing trustee of Help In Suffering (India), 1990-2007.
2020: Soi Dog Foundation cofounder John Dalley; Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action in Washington, D.C., a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association.