Queen Elizabeth II, Corgi

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Peanut butter and jelly. Chrissy Teigen and John LegendQueen Elizabeth II and her Corgis. Some relationships are just built to last.

Today marks Her Majesty's 90th birthday, and what better way to celebrate than by paying homage to her closest companions? The Queen's Corgis have been with her longer than her husband, longer than Prince William, and heck, longer than she's been The Queen. No animal is more synonymous with royalty than these squat little pups, and while most people can probably rattle off the knowledge that she's a fan of the breed, few are actually well-versed in her history with them.

And boy is there ever a history. Journey back with us as we look at Queen Elizabeth's long love affair with her four-legged friends.

It all began with Queen Victoria in the 1800s—at least according to Vanity Fair. Vicki loved her some dogs (especially Dachshunds and Scottish Collies), and that gave way to generations of royal pet-enthusiasts. For Elizabeth, she was first introduced to the Corgi breed as a young child. Jane was the lucky pup's name, and Her Majesty was so enamored with her that someone even wrote a children's book about their friendship; it's called Our Princesses and Their Dogs, in case anyone's looking for a new bedtime story.

Unfortunately, true love turned to heartache when Jane was tragically taken from this Earth far too early, at the hands of a ruthless driver hell-bent on destroying the one thing Elizabeth loved most in the world. (Okay, that last part is a bit of a farce; Jane was accidentally run over by an employee of Windsor Great Park who felt incredibly bad about it).

Queen Elizabeth II, Corgi

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Elizabeth eventually got over the loss, as children are wont to do, and was gifted a new puppy, named Susan, for her 18th birthday, who promptly became a member of the family. Legend even has it (and by legend, we mean official Royal Family photography) that Susan even joined the Queen and Prince Philip on their honeymoon. Sus must have gotten bit by the romance bug, because she went on to start what we tenderly call the Great Royal Family Corgi Breed-Off. She's even the common ancestor for every. single. one. of the Queen's corgis. 

After Queen Elizabeth took the throne, Corgi Madness grew larger still, spreading all across the Great country of Britain as the breed rose in popularity. Back at the castle, Her Majesty treated her pups to the good life. They traveled in packs with personal drivers, led by the finest leather leashes.

Queen Elizabeth II, Corgi

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 They sat for official royal photographs on what is surely a very, very expensive royal couch.

Queen Elizabeth II, Corgi

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They relaxed at the Sandringham country house amongst the blooming flowers and fresh air. 

Queen Elizabeth II, Corgi

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And most importantly, they flew by private jet. Nobody's going to tell these Corgis to book commercial.

Queen Elizabeth, Corgis

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But despite all this opulent treatment and the fact that they were being bred to high heaven for pretty much every member of the Royal Family, the Queen's Corgis didn't become the global sensations they are today until the Internet Age. After all, in order for a royal corgi to go viral, there must be a medium in which to display said Corgi. The pups had been caught on camera before, but never did they have such a time in the sun until the late aughts.

Our personal favorite? When the hosts of Today dressed up as the Royal Family for Halloween 2011, with Meredith Vieira as the Queen—gaggle of Corgis and all. And yes they were real, live Corgis.

Today Show Cast, Queen Elizabeth II

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Their true claim to fame came when they secured a starring role alongside Daniel Craig (and QE2, of course) in a James Bond-themed bit for the 202 London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Their adoring public was so adoring, in fact, that when one of the acting Corgis later crossed the rainbow bridge there was a period of international mourning. (But don't worry, because little Monty received a proper burial in the Royal Pet Cemetery).

Daniel Craig, Queen Elizabeth II, Corgis


All this led the community at large to band together once the news broke this past fall that the breed was—brace yourselves—in decline. In September 2015 Corgis were added to the U.K. Kennel Club's "vulnerable native breeds," and royal-watchers everywhere clutched their collective (knockoff) pearls.

But today is not a day for mourning or worrying about the procreation of future Corgi puppies; it's a day of celebration! We celebrate 90 years of Queen Elizabeth and 90 years of adorable Corgi stories and pictures. Vanity Fair has said that Her Majesty's dogs have provided her a way to break the ice with strangers, to receive unending amounts of love and affection and wet doggy breath kisses in an otherwise isolating life, and boy is that ever true. Here's to 90 more years of this:

Queen Corgi GIF
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