RIP Lupo, the much-loved English cocker spaniel belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
In a statement this week, they declared, "Very sadly, last weekend our dear dog, Lupo, passed away. He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much."
300,000 well-wishers promptly swamped the message with support for the dog – a wedding present from James Middleton, the duchess' brother. Lupo's mother, Ella, is thankfully alive and well, living with the duchess' parents.
Lupo was indeed a much-loved member of the Cambridge family, often appearing in photos in Prince William's arms; the latest in a long line of beloved royal dogs, going back to Mary, Queen of Scots. William's first dog, a black Labrador named Widgeon, sadly died in 2010, but Lupo has been a faithful friend since, being pictured next to a baby Prince George and gracing the cover of Hello! magazine.
George, like his father, is clearly a dog-lover: when the Obamas met him in Kensington Palace in 2013, President Obama gave him a Portuguese water dog toy – the same breed as Bo, the Obamas' dog.
As the new series of The Crown shows, the Royal family are often happier with the animal kingdom than with humans – dogs are more trustworthy than the press and, sometimes, your fellow royals. In one episode, the Queen postpones a discussion with Princess Diana because she has to feed the dogs first.
The Queen has indeed been the Firm's most prominent dog-owner in recent decades. She fell for corgis thanks to Dookie, who belonged to her father, George VI (his older brother, the Prince of Wales, preferred poodles – particularly his childhood pet, Sammy). George VI, then Duke of York, bought Dookie from a local kennel in 1933, when the Queen was 7 – and she was smitten. Her younger sister, Princess Margaret Rose, was more taken by Choo-Choo, a grey and white Tibetan mastiff.
The young Elizabeth owned 14 generations of corgis until, in October 2018, she was hit "extremely hard" by the death of Whisper – ending her connection with the breed, going back 85 years. Earlier that year Willow, nearly 15, died of cancer; she was descended from the Queen's first Corgi of her own, Susan, an 18th birthday present in 1944. For the Queen's official 90th birthday photographs with her grandchildren in 2016, Willow starred in the pictures, taken at Windsor Castle.
The first great dog-lover in the Royal Family had been Mary, Queen of Scots, born in 1542; in her miserable life, cut short by execution in 1587, her love of Maltese terriers was a great consolation.
As a 5-year-old, betrothed to the French Dauphin, later Francis II, she was sent to France. Unable to speak the language she took comfort in playing with the 22 pugs, spaniels and Maltese terriers in the French court.
On Francis' death, Mary returned to Scotland, taking the dogs. When she was imprisoned by Elizabeth I in Fotheringhay Castle, she begged Elizabeth to let her keep her lapdogs. Her jailer, Bess of Hardwick, said she would chat away in prison to her pets – even sending a picture of her favourites to her estranged son, James.
When Mary was executed, she hid a small, white dog under her skirts. The dog only emerged after her death, when the executioner, Bull, found the dog clinging to the corpse. Shooed away, it raced back to lie between Mary's severed head and her shoulders. Bull had the blood-splattered dog washed and given to a French princess, on the strict understanding that it would leave the country.
The most famous royal breed, however, is the King Charles Spaniel, named for their association with Charles II. In 1635 the future Charles II, then aged 5, was painted by Van Dyck with two King Charles spaniels and his brother and sister, James and Mary; one little spaniel is shown snuggling up next to the future king.
Throughout his life, Charles II was devoted to the dogs, declaring that they should be allowed everywhere in the kingdom – including Parliament. In one of the most famous pictures of Charles II, by Hendrick Danckerts, he receives the gift of a pineapple from the Royal Gardener – at his feet sit two playful King Charles spaniels.
The spaniels remained favourites with later royals. In one picture, a 14-year-old Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) poses with her favourite, Dash. The Queen had also been keen on Pomeranians ever since her mother, the Duchess of Kent, had one.
Queen Victoria bred them with care to make them smaller, and won several dog championships; at one point, she had 35 of the fluffy creatures. On her deathbed, she asked for her favourite, Turi, to be brought to her side. He was with her when she died.
Victoria passed on her love of dogs to her children. A family painting shows her with Prince Albert, their nine children and four pups: a greyhound, Eos, and three Skye terriers, Islay, Cairnach and Dandie Dinmont.
Her heir, Edward VII, was particularly keen on his wire fox terrier, Caesar of Notts, known as Caesar. Like many dog-owners, the king teased his pet, calling him "stinky". Caesar slept in a chair next to the King's bed, went with him on royal tours and had his own footman. From his collar, there dangled a tag reading: "I am Caesar. I belong to the King."
And on Edward VII's death in 1910, Caesar followed right behind his coffin at the head of the funeral procession, and is even depicted on Edward VII's monument in St George's Chapel.
Caesar, like so many royal pets, was closer to his master's heart than most humans.
Queen Victoria spoke for many of her descendants when she declared, "If it were not for the honest faces of dogs, we should forget the very existence of sincerity."