Nobles Hounds & Dear Companions


A collection of mesmerising images of canines with their royal families

Canines have been a favourite with royal families – from Dash, Queen Victoria’s beloved King Charles Spaniel and Eos, Prince Albert’s elegant Greyhound, to the famous Corgis of the House of Windsor, to name a few. The ‘Noble Hounds and Dear Companions’ is a compilation of over 200 affectionate, amusing and often poignant images of canine companions. Here’s a glimpse of some of the intriguing pictures from this book by Sophie Gordon.
Canines have always played an important role in the public and private lives of the Royal Family and ‘Noble Hounds and Dear Companions’ by Sophie Gordon celebrates this bond. Selected from the Royal Photograph Collection, it covers over 150 years of canines and royal family bond. Over 200 images showcase pooches as centre stage in both formal studio portraits and as part of relaxed family groups. Dogs are seen riding in carriages, on board the royal yacht, on guard duty at Windsor Castle and in the arms of monarchs, consorts, princes and princesses.As pets or working animals, dogs came into the possession of the royal family through many different routes. Quarry, a Russian dog, was brought back for Queen Victoria from Sebastopol by British troops serving in the Crimean War. Looty, another gift to the Queen, was probably the first Pekingese dog to arrive in Britain. King Edward VII’s Samoyed was a present from the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, while Vassilka and Alex, the first Borzois in the royal kennels, were presented by Tsar Alexander III of Russia. Skippy, on the other hand, was rescued from Battersea Dogs Home by Prince Leopold, son of Queen Victoria.Queen Victoria brought back Marco, a Pomeranian, from a visit to Italy in 1888 and at one time had 35 of the breed in the royal kennels. A Pomeranian called Turi often accompanied the Queen on her carriage drives in the last years of her life and was at her side when she died. The Japanese Chin, which had been introduced from Japan in the 1880s, became a favourite breed of Queen Alexandra, as were Papillons and Pekingese.
Her Majesty The Queen is among the world’s leading breeders of Pembroke corgis. The first royal Corgis, Dookie and Jane, were bought for the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose by their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Some of the photographs in this book even reveal the deep devotion shared by generations of dogs and their royal owners. Queen Victoria’s Spaniel, Dash, was buried at Windsor with an epitaph that read: His attachment was without selfishness, His playfulness without malice, His fidelity without deceit. READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH.
Interestingly, most of these photographs come from private family albums and have never been published before. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were patrons and collectors of photography, and several members of the royal family were gifted amateur photographers.
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– by Varsha Verma