Historical Interviews: A Conversation About Dogs With Queen Victoria

An exclusive Royal interview with Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Defender of the Faith, and Empress of India, to discuss her endless love affair with dogs.

Historical Interviews: A Conversation About Dogs With Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver

Today, we are honoured to be in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and Empress of India. Our founder Lord Bule has been granted this exclusive interview with Her Majesty to discuss a subject that has brought her much joy and solace throughout her reign—her profound love for dogs.

In this exclusive Royal interview, we explore Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s profound affection for her canine companions. We will delve into her cherished childhood memories, discuss the esteemed role her loyal pets have played throughout her life, the dogs her family has owned, and her views on the place of dogs in society.

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, it is a great honour to discuss such a personal aspect of your life. Could we begin by exploring your earliest experiences with dogs? How did your childhood experiences and upbringing shape your deep affection for these faithful companions?

Queen Victoria: Thank you, Lord Bule. Indeed, my affection for dogs began in my tender years. My first dog, a Spaniel named Dash, was presented to me as a child. He was more than a pet; he was a confidant and a source of immense comfort throughout my youth. His loyalty and spirited play were my earliest lessons in unconditional love and companionship.

Dash with Princess Victoria by Sir George Hayter

Lord Bule: Throughout your long and illustrious reign, you have seen many dogs come and go. How have you coped with the emotional loss of such cherished companions, and what rituals or practices have you found most comforting during these times?

Queen Victoria: Each loss has been profound, leaving a significant void. However, I find solace in ensuring their memories are honoured. The graves of my dogs, including Dash and Islay, bear epitaphs that reflect their virtues and the joy they brought into my life. These memorials across Windsor are a lasting homage to their spirits. Each dog I've owned has held a special place in my heart and royal duties. For instance, my beloved Collie, Noble, was a fixture at my side during many public appearances and private moments.

Victoria, Princess Royal, with Eos by Sir Edwin Landseer

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, one of your dogs in particular has a rather unique history. Could you tell us about Looty, the Pekingese dog presented to you by Captain John Hart Dunne, and the story behind her acquisition?

Queen Victoria: Ah, Looty, indeed. She was a remarkable little Pekingese acquired by Captain John Hart Dunne during the looting of the Old Summer Palace near Beijing in October of 1860. Captain Dunne presented her to me for the Royal Collection of Dogs, and I named her Looty in reference to how she was acquired. Despite the controversial circumstances of her arrival, she quickly became a cherished member of my household, known for her regal demeanor.

Lord Bule: The public has often been influenced by your preferences and practices. Could you elaborate on how your love for specific dog breeds has shaped public interest and societal trends in dog ownership?

Queen Victoria: Indeed, my interest in different breeds, particularly Pomeranians, significantly shaped public interest. I fondly remember my Pomeranian, Marco, who was renowned for his spirited demeanour and won numerous accolades. My patronage of dog shows and the presence of these breeds in the royal kennels undoubtedly popularised them, setting trends in dog ownership among our elites.

Marco on the Queen’s Breakfast Table, by Charles Burton Barber.

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, dogs are often said to teach us invaluable life lessons. What profound wisdom have your dogs imparted to you over the years, and how have these lessons influenced your approach to life and leadership?

Queen Victoria: They have taught me the essence of loyalty, and the beauty of a life lived with unconditional love. My dogs have provided a comforting, constant presence, a respite from the world's eyes. Their companionship has been one of my life’s simplest yet profound pleasures.

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, could you shed light on the significance of dogs within the wider Royal Family? How has this shared affection for dogs manifested across generations?

Queen Victoria: Absolutely, Lord Bule. Dogs have always been esteemed within our family. My beloved Prince Albert was particularly fond of greyhounds. Eos, his favourite, was a gift during our courtship and symbolised our love for animals. Moreover, the affection for dogs is a cherished tradition that has permeated our family for generations. My son, Edward, keeps several fine hunting dogs, reflecting his vigorous passion for outdoor sports. 

Eos by Sir Edwin Landseer

Similarly, my sons Arthur and Leopold have also embraced this familial legacy, caring for breeds such as the noble deerhound. My daughter, Princess Alice, was particularly fond of a small terrier gifted to her on one of her birthdays. This terrier, named Pickle, was a great source of joy during her youth.

Queen Victoria & Prince Albert in Windsor Palace by Sir Edwin Landseer

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, dogs have been a significant part of your personal and public life. Could you elaborate on how they have supported you both in private moments and during your official duties?

Queen Victoria: During my summer retreats at Osborne House, my dogs provided a comforting, playful presence, lightening the sombre responsibilities of the state. They were with me during walks in the gardens and rested by my side during long evenings of correspondence. Dogs have often accompanied me on public engagements, providing a bridge between the Royal Family and the public. 

Their presence softens the formality of occasions and brings a touch of warmth and relatability. I recall an instance where a young Pomeranian, Turi, accompanied me to a public outing, and his gentle demeanour endeared him to the crowd, enhancing their affection towards us.

Queen Victoria at Loch Laggan by Sir Edwin Landseer

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, how do your personal values regarding the treatment of animals influence the practices within the royal households, and what are your thoughts on the broader movement for animal welfare?

Queen Victoria: The manner in which one treats animals reflects one's character. It is vital to advocate for kindness and proper care towards all creatures. This belief prompted my support for animal welfare initiatives, and I've always ensured that our royal kennels set an example of exemplary animal care.

Lord Bule: For those who aspire to be responsible dog owners, what guidance would you offer? How can they ensure the well-being and happiness of their canine companions?

Queen Victoria: To all who cherish the company of dogs, I say: treat them with the kindness and respect they deserve. Ensure they are well-fed, adequately exercised, and affectionately cared for. Remember, the loyalty and joy that dogs bring to our lives is a treasure that should be reciprocated with equal measures of love and responsibility.

Hector, Nero and Dash with the Parrot by Sir Edwin Landseer

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, the Royal Family has often set trends in dog breeding and care. How do you believe this has shaped broader societal attitudes towards dog ownership and animal welfare?

Queen Victoria: Indeed, Lord Bule, our choices in dog breeds and our methods of care often serve as benchmarks that society tends to emulate. The prominence of breeds such as the Pomeranian has significantly increased following their association with my family. This heightened their popularity and set a high standard for their ethical breeding and attentive care. We advocate for and rigorously practice these principles, aiming to foster a culture of responsible dog ownership across the nation.

Furthermore, the visibility of these breeds at royal events and our public endorsement of dog shows have played pivotal roles in promoting their welfare. Our patronage underscores our commitment to the welfare and proper treatment of dogs, setting a noble example for all dog owners to follow.

Lord Bule: Your Majesty, your profound bond with dogs clearly highlights a deeper philosophical belief. Could you please elaborate on the virtues and life lessons dogs exemplify and how they can inspire us all?

Queen Victoria: Dogs, with their unwavering loyalty and unconditional love, exemplify virtues we should all aspire to embody. They teach us about loyalty, courage, and the importance of companionship. In a world often divided, they remind us of life’s fundamental joys and simplicities—lessons that are invaluable.

Lord Bule: In conclusion, Your Majesty, could you offer some final reflections on the role of dogs within British culture and perhaps provide some advice for your subjects on how to perceive and treat these faithful companions?

Queen Victoria: Dogs hold a special place in British culture, symbolising steadfastness and bravery. To my subjects, I regard dogs as companions and beings worthy of respect and compassion. Treat them with the kindness they unreservedly give you. Let us strive to reflect the virtues they teach us, enhancing our bonds and fostering a society built on mutual respect and understanding. Dogs are not merely pets but a vital part of our British heritage and culture. 

They embody traits we value highly—loyalty, courage, and unwavering affection. As a society, we must continue to cherish and protect these companions who enhance our lives immeasurably. Let us strive to be as faithful to them as they are to us, and let their presence remind us of the virtues of kindness and compassion, which should define us as a nation.

Lord Bule: Thank you, Your Majesty, for sharing your profound insights and experiences. Your words will undoubtedly resonate with many and inspire greater appreciation for our loyal canine companions.

Queen Victoria: Thank you. It has been a pleasure to reflect on these cherished aspects of my life and to share them with your readers.

Authors Note: I hope you enjoyed this fictional interview, part of my new series where I interview historical figures about their dogs. I strive to be historically accurate in my interviews, and attempt to accurately convey their language.