LONDON — There will be a face — and four paws — missing from beneath the queen’s table this Christmas.
As the royal family gathered Wednesday to celebrate the holidays, Queen Elizabeth II was mourning the death of one of her beloved corgis, mauled by a terrier with a violent past owned by her daughter Princess Anne.
Buckingham Palace would not comment on the widely reported attack, which has cast a pall over the family’s holiday celebrations. An unidentified “royal insider” told The Sun newspaper that the queen was devastated by the dog’s death.
British newspapers said Pharos the corgi was hurt in an altercation with Dotty the bull terrier at the royal family’s Sandringham estate on Monday. The 77-year-old queen, recovering from recent knee surgery, hobbled to the scene to find Pharos badly injured, with one leg broken in three places.
The corgi was treated by royal vets but had to be put down, reports said.
A previous attack
Dotty was in the news — and her royal owner in court — last year after she attacked two children in a park. But Colette Case, a prominent London pet behavior consultant, said the latest tragic incident “could have happened in any household.”
“Corgis are very feisty dogs and are known for getting themselves into scrapes and scraps,” she said.
The queen is a noted corgi fancier and has owned more than 30 of the petite Welsh cattle dogs, starting with Susan, who was given to her on her 18th birthday in 1944.
She has also introduced a new breed of dog known as a “dorgi” — the unlikely result of one of her corgis mating with a dachshund named Pipkin belonging to her sister Princess Margaret.
Her affection for the breed is well known. Photographs of Buckingham Palace published in the Daily Mirror tabloid last month, taken by a reporter posing as a royal footman, showed a Tupperware container of dog biscuits on the queen’s breakfast table.
The dogs often sneak into official palace functions, including a reception for President Bush last month. Newspaper reports said the queen hangs out Christmas stockings packed with doggie treats for her canine companions.
Queen's pack now eight dogs
The death of Pharos leaves the queen with eight corgis and dorgis.
Dotty has been in the doghouse before. In April 2002 she bit two children, aged 7 and 12, as they walked in Windsor Great Park near Windsor Castle.
Princess Anne was fined $880 — the first time in the modern age that a senior member of the British royal family had been convicted of a criminal offense.
After a canine psychologist described Dotty as “an utterly placid, playful dog,” the judge spared the terrier’s life but ordered that the animal undergo training and be kept on a leash in public places.
Case said Dotty was not necessarily to blame for the latest incident.
“We don’t even know what happened. It could have been self-defense,” she said. “The corgis have had to see behavior consultants in the past for biting members of the household staff, so they are not exactly the easiest of dogs to manage either.
“I think this was a very badly managed situation that was allowed to get out of control. Just bad handling. (Princess Anne) has had an incident with this dog in the past, so she knew that this dog required even greater management and care.”
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