Queen Victoria's Animals


THE Queen's genuine love for almost all animals is well known, but few people are aware of the deep personal interest Her Majesty takes in her dumb creatures, or can realise the thought and money that are expended on their suitable lodging, proper food and constant care. As we know, the one exception to the Queen's large-hearted sympathy with the animal kingdom is made with regard to cats. On the other hand, she has a perfect adoration for dogs and a genuine love and appreciation for her horses. Each individual animal belonging to the Queen is well lodged and tended, for Her Majesty argues that the possession of an animal renders the owner responsible for its well-being. Hence it is that the Royal Stables at all the Queen's houses are hygienically so perfect, and that the Queen's Kennels in the Home Park at Windsor are models of what healthy and cleanly houses for dogs should be.

The Kennels are situated on a sunny slope and form a picturesque attachment to the very pretty cottage in Gothic style of the Keeper of the Queen's dogs, and of the plainly furnished room, which, according to custom, is kept sacredly apart for the exclusive use of Her Majesty. The Kennels themselves are really a most beautifully built row of little houses, very white and clean in effect, and each with a wired inclosure or "run" before it. For cleaning and feeding purposes they can be entered from the back. Dogs with young families, and those of a breed that should be together, or that live in perfect unity one with the other, are placed together, but in no instance does one "Kennel" or house contain more than three or four dogs.

Before the Kennels lies the splendid open piece of turf, divided by netting into large "runs." Here is a general mingling of dogs, and much gamboling, barking, and racing. When the Queen drives up to the Kennels, most of the animals are turned on this lovely sward for her inspection. Besides this precarious exercise, all the dogs are taken in parties for a good walk in the Park every morning.

It is not to be expected that all this number of dogs are personal favourites of the Queen although she knows and has named each individual animal or that they are allowed the free run of her private apartments. Far from it. Many of the animals at the Royal Kennels are bred to give away, or are presents that have been pressed on Her Majesty. At the same time the Queen has seldom, if ever, concentrated her affection on one dog alone. In the Prince Consort's time (which was also the day of the graceful and faithful hound "Eos") the Queen's suite, when she moved anywhere, generally comprised at least half-a-dozen dogs. Skye terriers were then very popular with the Queen, and also turnspits. Of these last quaint creatures the Royal Kennels contain a great many fine specimens, which are descendants of some very well-bred animals brought by Prince Albert from Germany.

Of collies the Queen was always very fond, and she owns several fine dogs of this breed, though being in most instances pure bred, they are not so attractive to English eyes as are those that are a cross between the collie and the Gordon setter. One of the pure white collies called "Lily" always travels with the Queen. The other, "Maggie," is not so pretty a creature. A fox-terrier called "Spot," and the perky little tan-coloured German Spitz-dog, "Marco," also are always with the Queen. Marco's mate, "Lenda," is not so engaging as he is. His offspring are numerous and charming, and although the Queen has given many of them away, these Spitzes, in various shades of yellow and brown, are ubiquitous in the Royal Kennels. The Queen possesses a pair of exquisite white Spitz-dogs. The male, called "Turri," was brought from Florence.

There is no doubt that Her Majesty's pet dog for many years was a collie named "Sharp." The Queen was devoted to this animal, which, when with its Royal Mistress, always behaved delightfully. It had all its meals with her, and but seldom left her side. Oddly enough, it was a most bad-tempered beast, and the Household and servants were, with the exception of John Brown, who kept it in some sort of order, terrified by it. One morning, as a servant was holding "Sharp" in readiness for the Queen to come out for her airing, the dog flew at him in a fit of temper. The man, half frightened, caught "Sharp" a heavy blow across the loins with a stick he carried. Her Majesty, seeing the dog walk lame, asked if it had been hurt, and the attendant, afraid to say that he had struck the animal, answered that it had hurt its back in trying to jump up trees after squirrels. As "Sharp" always did this, the Queen was satisfied, but the dog limped at times to the day of its death.

Yet Her Majesty did acknowledge that her favourite had a tendency to fight when out of doors, for she once mentioned that on an expedition "good Sharp" took in her company, he varied the monotony of the way by having numerous collie-shangies," the vernacular in the Highlands for a row between collies.

Noble, who took special charge of the Queen's gloves, was another collie of whom the Queen was very fond. From time to time the Queen has shown some of her collies, but she is, as a rule, averse to exhibiting such sensitive creatures.

Very different is the case with the Queen's cattle. For many years the Windsor Farms, the Home, the Flemish and the Shaw Farms, have produced the grandest prize-stock in the world, and the Queen is exceedingly proud of the fact. She takes the liveliest interest in the magnificent animals bred on her estates, and few of the splendid roan calves grow up to be fattened and killed without receiving many visits from the Queen. Not only in prize-bred animals does Her Majesty sweep the board, but also in fat stock. When the Royal family used to spend all December and Christmastide at Windsor, the Queen and the Prince used, with the children and Household, to walk round the Farms frequently and inspect the fat stock, which is principally kept at the Shaw Farm. Nearer to the Castle is the very quaint, low-lying Flemish Farm where the dairy cows are kept and milked in a long double row of stalls, each labelled with its occupant's name. Here also for a time lived a wonderful buffalo which had been sent to the Queen as a calf, and a very pretty little Albino pony which Her Majesty purchased from Hengler's Circus to please the little Princes of Battenberg.

All the Queen's cattle are washed over once a week with a mild and sweet disinfectant. The work is done by very experienced men from the time the creatures are young calves, and they grow to enjoy the process. The Queen's Farms are splendidly managed and more than pay for themselves, yet, though the Queen is so fond of her stock, the number kept is always rigorously cut down if winter food promises to be scarce or too expensive.

It is a pretty sight on all the Royal Farms to see the superannuated horses from the Queen's Stables quietly feeding in the sheltered paddocks or doing a little easy work. Every one of these good old servants the Queen knows by name and notices as she takes her morning drives over her great property.

Quite close to Frogmore House, and just past that miracle of cleanliness and white marble, exquisite tile work and tinkling fountains that go to make up the Queen's Dairy, is the Royal Aviary, which, facing a sunny slope and hemmed in by a fine shrubbery, was built by the Prince Consort for such birds as the Queen might fancy to keep. It is a charming group of buildings, the centre being occupied by the Keeper's house, and again containing a very little apartment where the Queen and her children used to go and drink tea. The Aviary faces a good-sized basin of water, into which the ducks and a pretty fountain splash all day long. Looking on to this pleasant scene are eighteen pens full of splendid poultry, all of the best breeds, as the blue labels affixed to each indicates. At the back are the perfectly arranged roosting and sitting houses.

Each breed of birds is kept carefully distinct, and it is amusing to watch a penful of silver spangled Hamburgs being driven home before either the Black Minorcas, Andalusians or any other kind are let out for an hour's run on the fresh turf.

The eggs served at the Queen's breakfast table are exclusively those of white Dorkings.

All new and interesting breeds of poultry are at once patronised by Her Majesty, who nowadays frequently drives to the Aviary at feeding time to watch her grand-children feed the birds. A splendid penful of gold spangled Hamburgs belong to little Prince Alexander of Battenberg, who is very proud of the handsome birds.

Of the number of birds raised every year at the Aviary, one hundred are always kept for stocking the pens, the others being fattened for the Castle.

Of ducks the Queen has but few, and only about seventy Aylesbury ducks are reared a year for the Royal table.

Fancy birds include some seventy lovely pigeons, principally Jacobins and foreign owls. Some pure white doves belong to Princess Beatrice, whose favourite birds are, however, canaries, of which a cageful accompanies her wherever she goes. Cinnamon turkeys are successfully bred at the Royal Aviary and there are also some handsome golden pheasants.

Yet even more interesting than the live pets are the stuffed birds that in glass cases almost line the Queen's little sitting-room in the Keeper's cottage.

Here are Japanese silver and Amherst pheasants, an emu's head, some gorgeous Indian pigeons, and the magnificent peacock that once belonged to Lord Beaconsfield, and was sent to the Queen from Hughenden soon after his death. A great case contains some birds, caper-cailzie, black cock and grouse, shot by Prince Albert at "Teymouth, September 8th and 9th, 1842."

In Her Majesty's rooms at the Castle are some linnets of which she is very fond. Strange birds to possess, and scarcely to be regarded as pets, are two large eagles, one caught in Windsor Forest and one in Scotland, that live in a great cage at the Head Keeper's Lodge. Whenever the Queen drinks tea with Mrs. Overstone at the Lodge, she always inspects these Royal but unsociable birds.

Other queer animals owned by the Queen are some long-haired white Canadian pigs, and an inclosure in the forest full of wild boars. These last are most ferocious-looking animals. A few are killed at Christmas time, and their heads, after being suitably decorated by the chefs, are sent by the Queen to certain members of the Royal Family, while one figures on the sideboard at Osborne.

The Queen's kindness even to animals with which she has no personal association has always been great. In 1877, when she was driving up Glen Muick, near Balmoral, her people told her that a little fawn was lying at the bottom of a disused gravel-pit. The Queen had the exhausted animal rescued and brought to her, and insisted on having it in her carriage and bearing it in her own arms back to the Castle. The animal was named "Victoria," and lived for ten years on the Balmoral estate.

This same kindness she inculcated in all her children, and Princess Alice, on one of her birthdays, found her greatest pleasure in a pet lamb, all pink ribbons and bells. She afterwards wept bitterly because the lamb would not love her so much as she loved it.

# Nearly all the Queen's pet animals have been perpetuated, and her rooms everywhere contain pictures, and statuettes in marble, gold, or silver of her favourite horses and dogs. "Sharp" was modelled several times and once taken in company with the Queen on her Throne. Memories of the faithful "Eos" are everywhere. "Boy," and "Boz," in bronze are embowered among flowers near the Dairy; as we know, " Noble," with the Queen's gloves, faces "Eos" below the North Terrace. One of the grandest gold centre-pieces the Queen has, is a group of five of her pet dogs, another is made up of portrait models of four favourite steeds. On all the Queen's estates are touching tablets to the memory of some faithful dumb friend. The Queen has loved them all, and nothing can hurt her more than cruelty to animals or an unjust depreciation of their many virtues.

The Private Life of the Queen, By a member of the Royal Household, 1897
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