The Queen's corgis have been keeping the monarch in good, canine company ever since she was a little girl. But life as a royal pooch is more luxurious than you might imagine!
Not only do the pampered pets have their own exclusive menu, Prince William, Prince Harry and other royals even provide their four-legged friends with freshly-hunted food.
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The Queen, who has famously called her corgis "her family", makes sure her trusty companions are treated like true members of the royal clan. So what exactly do the most pampered pooches in Britain dine on? We spoke to former royal chef Darren McGrady, who spent 11 years working for the Queen, about the royal corgis' very strict diet – and their "yappy" nature.
Darren McGrady shared the dogs' royal menu
"When I worked at the palace, we actually had a royal menu for the dogs," Darren told HELLO! Online. "It would be chosen and sent to us in the kitchen every month by Mrs Fennick, who took care of all the dogs at Sandringham.
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"It would list each day what the dogs were to have. One day it would be beef, the next day chicken, the next day lamb, the next day rabbit and it alternated through those days.
"The beef would come in, we would cook it, dice it into really fine pieces and then we did same with the chicken. We'd poach them, and again chop them really, really small to make sure there were no bones so the dogs wouldn't choke."
"One day it would be beef, the next day chicken, the next day lamb," Darren said
"Prince William and Prince Harry used to shoot rabbits on the Windsor Estate, so we'd get the rabbits, they'd have to be cleaned and then cooked," he said. "Some days some of the dogs were – shall we say for a better word – a little bunged-up so we'd have to add cabbage on the menu, and then other days we'd actually put rice in there for the other way. It really was a case of following the menu."
The dogs' feeding routine was just as strict, said Darren. "Every day the Queen's footman would come down to the kitchen at around two or three in the afternoon, and take the dog food upstairs to feed the royal corgis. They each had their own bowls," said the chef. "The Queen would feed them herself, I think after she'd had her tea."
The Queen would feed the corgis herself
It's no secret that the 94-year-old monarch truly loves her corgis. She was given her first corgi Susan when she was 18, and even took the little pooch on her honeymoon with Prince Philip. She also grew up surrounded by corgis as a young girl.
Sadly her beloved pet Holly – a descendent of Susan – passed away in 2016, followed by Willow in 2018, leaving the Queen with two dorgis (a dachshund/ corgi crossbreed), Candy and Vulcan. She also has an adopted corgi called Whisper, who she took in after the death of his owner, former Sandringham gameskeeper Bill Fenwick, in January 2017.
"It is sad about Holly, and it's also quite sad that the Queen has said she's not going to replace them," said Darren. "For years while I was there, one would die and she'd get another one. She always had about 12 but now she's saying I'm not going to outlive them, so when they die they're just going to die off."
She always had about 12
The Queen is never far from her corgis. In 2016, they pictured in Her Majesty's official 90th birthday portraits and also famously starred in the 2012 James Bond London Olympics sketch.
They may look sweet from afar, but Darren admitted: "The chefs didn't like the corgis! They're yappy, little yappy nasty dogs. They're pack dogs so they'd always fight with the Queen Mother's dogs or Princess Anne's dogs.
"Places like Sandringham, the dogs would come into the kitchen. You'd often think, 'Come on get out of the way, otherwise I'll put you in the oven!' Ha ha.
The dogs travelled wherever the Queen went
"The worst time was whenever we flew to Balmoral, flew up to Aberdeen. We'd all have to be in our suits because we were travelling with the Queen and she'd take the dogs up and the dogs would lay by your feet and you'd get dog hairs everywhere. You'd try and push them away without them yelping at you."
Darren did have a soft spot for Chipper though, a dorgi. "He was my favourite, so when we were at Sandringham I'd always give him titbits in the kitchen," he said.
Her Majesty grew up surrounded by corgis
"Chipper was a dorgi, he had a great personality. I think the daschund cross seems to calm them down a bit and makes them nicer, sweeter. I liked Myth and Piper too, she was a dorgi, a long-haired one. But the others I didn't remember them all. Honestly they all look the same to me!"
The royal chef added: "We liked the hunting dogs. Prince William's dog Widgeon, a black Labrador, he was sweet. He was a working dog. They were looked after by the gamekeeper so we didn't cook for them."
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