Edward VII's dog played 'unconventional' role in funeral

by 24britishtvSept. 19, 2022, 7 p.m. 20
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He led a luxurious life in the royal world, with his own personal footmen and a designated easy chair for him to sleep on right next to the King. His collar read: "I am Caesar. I belong to the King". It has been reported that Caesar refused to eat following the death of Edward on May 6, 1910, and would spend time whining outside of the late monarch's bedroom. The King's love for his canine friend was clear when Caesar took centre stage during his funeral procession. The terrier led the cortege alongside a Highland soldier, walking behind the carriage that carried Edward's coffin. His position placed him ahead of multiple heads of state, including Edward's son King George V and eight other Kings. The "unconventional" sight captured the heart of the nation, with the King's parting moment proving he and his pup were indeed inseparable. However, while his involvement in the procession endeared him to some, Caesar's presence was disapproved of by others. Namely Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire, who seemed unhappy that such precedence was granted to a mere dog. READ MORE: Queen's mysterious handwritten letter lying in vault which can only be opened in 2085

The funeral procession was a reflection of Britain at that time - it was the most important nation on earth, possessing the largest empire in human history. It is in stark contrast with the Britain of today, which Mr McKinstry described as "a middle-ranking European country". At the time, the King's death marked a "grim portent" that the Empire may come under threat. He quoted aristocrat Lady Fawsley, who wrote at the time: "What a crushing blow has fallen on the Empire. There was never a moment when our wise ruler, our truly beloved King, could be spared." While Edward was known for his self-indulgence, he was a particularly popular sovereign. His son and successor, King George V, was less so and, immediately after his accession, was plunged into a major constitutional crisis after Liberal leader Herbert Asquith introduced a radical measure to restrict the power of the House of Lords. George V ruled through a tumultuous period, which saw World War One, political turbulence and a world financial crisis.

In 1952, when George VI died suddenly in his sleep, his eldest daughter, who was just 25 years old, became the new monarch. Queen Elizabeth II's reign lasted over 70 years, making her the longest-serving British monarch in history. The Commonwealth had been formed three years earlier when nations agreed to maintain an association between countries that had once been part of the British colonies, but which were considered "free and equal". Queen Elizabeth witnessed the British Empire's dissolution and became the Head of the Commonwealth following the death of her father. Having acceded the throne in the postwar era, the Queen was head of state through a period of great change. As Brooke Newman, Ph.D., associate professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences told VCU News: "Queen Elizabeth and the 1,000-year-old institution she embodied offered continuity and reassurance in a rapidly changing world. Through seven decades of social and political upheaval, the queen remained a steadfast, seemingly timeless figure; a national symbol of duty, longevity and resilience. "On the other hand, the monarchy, with its lavish, archaic customs and millennium’s worth of inherited wealth and privilege, often appeared outmoded and even wasteful, particularly during periods of economic crisis and austerity. To ensure the institution’s survival, Queen Elizabeth was forced to adapt and, at times, to bend to public pressure."

While their reigns looked very different, Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth II both made their love for their dogs very clear. Since the death of the Queen, questions have arisen about the fate of her beloved corgis, the pets she has treasured since childhood. It has been revealed her dogs will be looked after by her son Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Like Edward VI, who was gifted Caeaser by a friend, Elizabeth was given her first corgi, Susan, on her eighteenth birthday. Over the next six decades, she would own more than 30 of Susan's descendants. According to reports, a young Princess Elizabeth and Susan were inseparable. When the pup died in 1959, the Queen wrote: "I had always dreaded losing her but I am ever so thankful that her suffering was so mercifully short."

Susan was buried in the pet cemetery at Sandringham, started by famously committed mourner Queen Victoria. Edward VI's relationship with his dog is acknowledged on his tomb in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, where Caeser is represented eternally curled up at The King's feet.

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