A Change of Fortune – and Breed

Show of hands: How many of us who are married have irritated the in-laws because of our dogs?

It happens to a lot of us. It even happens to royalty. And here’s where we ask that you stay with us as we work backwards starting with the Queen of England..

England’s current monarch was never supposed to be Queen.

The presumed heir to King George V in the early 1930s was his eldest son, Edward. Second in line was Albert, Elizabeth’s father.  Had Albert had a son, that boy would have been third in line to the throne, but Albert had two daughters: Elizabeth and Margaret, and that made his the eldest girl, Elizabeth, third in line to the throne.

In the minds of the royals, it didn’t really matter, anyway, because the royal family was confident that Edward would settle down and have children. Only he didn’t. After 325 days of rule, Edward renounced the throne to marry divorcée, Wallis Simpson. That made Elizabeth’s father, Albert, the new (and reluctant) King George VI (some of you may remember his story in the movie, The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth).

When George VI died, the next in line for the throne was his eldest child, Elizabeth, England’s current monarch.

Before marrying Wallace Simpson, Edward had shown a fondness for Cairn Terriers, just as his father, George V, had before him. Edward continued to own Cairn Terriers until and beyond his abdication, but after his abdication is where accounts vary.

Some say that Charles Bedaux, a French-born American industrialist, and the person who hosted his wedding to Wallis Simpson, was the one to “turn him on” to Pugs by giving him a Pug named, “Preezie.” Other accounts say that it was Wallace Simpson herself who turned Edwards head from Cairn Terriers to Pugs.

All told, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (their titles after Edward abdicated the throne) owned nine Pugs. The rejection of the Cairn Terrier by Wallis Simpson, now the Duchess of Windsor, was deemed by her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, to be a conscience act of defiance, and it’s said that the Queen Mother detested Pugs from that moment forward.

Bad blood between the two existed for years. When Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Margaret, wanted to marry a divorced commoner, the Duchess named one of her Pugs after Margaret’s love interest, Peter Townsend.


We hesitate to say that Wallis Simpson was smitten with the breed, but she had eleven Pug-shaped pillows arranged at the foot of her bed, each a replica of a needlepoint done by actress Sylvia Sidney (that later sold for $13,800 after the Duchess’s death). When famous photographer, Richard Avedon, photographed Edward and Wallis during their stay at the Waldorf Astoria in 1957,  he told the couple a long, sad story about seeing a taxi cab run over a puppy. He chose that moment to snap the picture that now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. It remains one of Avedon’s more memorable works. The image seen here, however, is believed to be attributed to Suzy Menkes’ The Windsor Style


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Optionally add an image (JPEG only)