Bo shines the spotlight on royal pets and noble companions
While watching the Oscar winning movie, The King's Speech, I got to thinking about that famous quote by President Harry S. Truman, "If you want a friend in Washington get a dog," and how it doesn't just apply to diplomats in the good ol' USA. World aristocrats have kept pets throughout the ages and no doubt sought, and received, some much needed solace from their courtly critters during a lot of very trying times. They knew we would always keep their secrets and never slip any hemlock in their wine.
As you may have seen in The King's Speech, Queen Elizabeth II grew up with dogs and remains an avid dog lover. She currently owns at least ten dogs including Labradors, Spaniels, and her favorites, the Corgis along with a new breed concocted by her royal breeders, Dorgis - a cross between Dacshunds and Corgis. Maybe they'll have me over for some canine crumpets and black dog tea soon!
Queen Anne of Hungary owned dogs, as did Charles II (pictured with his siblings); Catherine the Great; and Queen Victoria whose childhood favorite was Dash, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and later in life, Sharp, a smooth coated Border Collie type.
Some rather exotic royal companions included Akbar the Great's falcon; Cleopatra's pet leopard, Arrow; Queen Catherine of Aragon's monkey; and Queen Elizabeth I's ermine. I don't know for certain if Elizabeth actually owned a pet ermine or, if the artist added the rodent to the painting because it was the symbol for royalty, and the tiny gold crown (around his neck) the symbol for majesty and purity at that time. Hey, Dad, where's my gold crown??
We animals have been advising, amusing and comforting great leaders for eons and will continue to do so just as long as we are loved, admired, played-with and spoiled, as payment-in-kind for our noble contributions.