The Queen has been hit "extremely hard" by the death of her last corgi, Willow, who was put to sleep at Windsor Castle on Sunday, after suffering from a cancer-related illness. In recent years, Her Majesty – who has owned more than 30 corgis since 1945 – stopped breeding them due to her age, making Willow's death all the more upsetting. A source at Buckingham Palace told the Daily Mail: "She has mourned every one of her corgis over the years, but she has been more upset about Willow's death than any of them."
Willow was a descendant of the Queen's childhood pet dog Dookie, and introduced to the royal family by her father, King George VI, and was her last link to her parents. "Willow represents a significant thread running through the Queen’s life from her teenage years to her 90s. For many, many years she bred and raised corgis and to think that the last one has now gone is something of a milestone," the source added.
The Queen's beloved corgi Willow has died at the age of 14
The 91-year-old made the heartbreaking decision to have Willow put down on Sunday afternoon after her condition worsened. "She does not like seeing her dogs suffer and she knows that sometimes putting a dog down is the kindest course of action – although that doesn’t make her loss any less," the source said. It is thought that Willow has now been buried at the grounds of the castle, with plans for a headstone to be placed there in time, which will read: "A faithful companion of the Queen".
Willow had made several high-profile appearances in her life, including featuring in the Queen's official portrait to mark her 90th birthday in 2016, as well as starring in the famous James Bond sketch alongside Daniel Craig during the London Olympic opening ceremony in 2012.
Willow featured in the James Bond sketch during the London Olympics opening ceremony
The Queen still has two corgi-dachsund crosses called Vulcan and Candy, and an adopted corgi called Whisper, who she took in after the death of his owner, former Sandringham gameskeeper Bill Fenwick, in January 2017. Whisper recently made a trip with the Queen earlier in the month during an audience with Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary-General. Her Majesty was receiving her guest in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle and surprised royal watchers by being pictured with her corgi at her side.