The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this week, with means that the UK will be blanketed by wall-to-wall royal celebrations over bank holiday. Given the Windsor family’s patchy history of racism and sexism – to say nothing of the whole Prince Andrew thing – it’s easy to ask what, exactly, is there to celebrate about the Queen being on the throne for 70 years. Well, we can think of one: her dogs.
The corgi, Elizabeth II’s dog breed of choice, is “alert, active and intelligent”, according to the Kennel Club, and makes for excellent family pets. It also helps that they are also nauseatingly cute, which helps if you are a republican who is struggling with the idea of enjoying a four-day bank holiday weekend while also despising the monarchy.
Thankfully, you do not need to be born into a royal bloodline to get a corgi (although ancestral wealth probably helps if you want to own more than 30, as the Queen has over her lifetime), which is why dog event organisers Pop + Bark invited non-royal owners and their dogs to a Jubilee-themed corgi cafe at Bankside, London. VICE photographer Chris Bethell went down to photograph the scene and ask the owners of the Queen’s preferred dog if they’re dyed-in-the-wool republicans or diehard monarchists.
Jessie Frahm, 36 and Ben Hughes, 37, with Bobby
VICE: Are you both corgi fanatics?
Jessie Frahm: Pretty much. I refer to Bobby as my child – Ben gets really embarrassed, but that’s alright. Are you embarrassed now?
Did the Queen inspire you to get a corgi?
Frahm: I originally wanted a dachshund.
Hughes: And I wanted a shiba inu. Corgis are kind of in between [those two].
If Bobby was a member of the royal family, who would he be?
Frahm: I don’t know…. Harry? A fun version of the royal family?
Hughes: Is there a fun version of the royal family?
Azin Meihami (left), 34, with Luna
VICE: Why do you love corgis so much? I assume you do since you’re here!
Azin Meihami: I love their figure and how they look – they’re so cute!
Do you like the royals? Did they inspire you to get a corgi?
Yes! Definitely, a huge inspiration.
Any special plans with Luna for the Jubilee?
We might go to see the Derby in Epsom - she’s coming along with me.
Do you treat her like a royal?
I do – I give her lots of belly rubs, of course! Lots of grooming! Oh yeah, the royals love belly rubs.
Phillip Kane, 30, and Mikaela Vanderhagen, 28, with Archie
VICE: Are you both royalists?
Phillip Kane: Yeah, I suppose.
Mikaela Vanderhagen: I’m American. The dog is American, so…. We’re just wannabes.
If you were to describe Archie as one of the royals, which would he be?
Kane: It’d have to be one of the ones out of the limelight, he’s a bit of a social anxiety dog.
Have you got anything special for him planned for the Jubilee?
Vanderhagen: We bought him this coat especially for it! We plan to take him to all of the events we can sneak him into and get the full experience.
Catherine Tengtio, Maura Maycock, 32, and Robbie Maycock, 32, with Aggie
VICE: Would you describe yourselves as fans of the royals?
Robbie Maycock: Yeah, I would say so.
Maura Maycock: I would say as Americans – well, me and Catherine anyway, Robbie isn’t – that we are very intrigued by them.
The word “intrigued” is doing a lot of work here. Was there any inspiration behind choosing a corgi?
Maura: My family has always had corgis. My mum had a corgi when she was growing up and they named her Penelope of Wellington because it sounded royal. It’s a family tradition – we then got Aggie when we moved here. She’s named in honour of her godfather, which is one of our friends from Israel – he loves corgis. Her name is Agora, which is an Israeli penny. Penelope of Wellington’s nickname was Penny, my family dog was called Nickel, our second puppy was called Tuppence and so we’ve had this coin tradition going for a while!
Do you think she’d like to get her face on a coin some day?
Maura: I’m sure she would. She is in charge of everything.
If she was one of the royals, would she be the Queen then?
Maura: Yeah, she’d be Queen Elizabeth.
Annabelle Hawksworth, 26, with Biscuit
VICE: How old is Biscuit?
Annabelle Hawksworth: He’s just turned one! Really fresh!
Why did you get a corgi?
I wanted a loveable dog that also loves adventures and you can walk corgis all day long. I got him for the cuteness – and the walks.
Do you feel like the Queen when you’re walking him around?
I do! I get a lot of “oh it’s the Queen’s corgi!” or “You must be the Queen!” and I’m like, “Yes!” It’s quite cute. Everyone always says that you don’t see many of them, but today is quite different.
Will you be doing anything special with Biscuit over the Jubilee Weekend?
To be honest, this was the main plan! Not sure what we’ll do next weekend, but we do have bunting and balloons and cute things for him to wear.
You’re going to be decorated, Biscuit! Would you say that he’s patriotic?
I would definitely say so. And he loves being around all the other corgis. He’d definitely like to meet the Queen. I think he’d have his best behaviour on, although he might be tempted to jump up and give her a lick.
If he was a member of the royal family, who would he be?
Oh my gosh, that’s the hardest question ever. Probably – I know it’s not the best right now – Harry because he’s a little bit cheeky and sometimes he doesn’t know when to behave. [Biscuit weed on the seat he’s stood on just seconds earlier]
Zoe McLaughlin, 22, and Tom Saich, 31, with Ziggy
VICE: How long have you had Ziggy for?
Zoe McLaughlin: About eight months now, we’ve had him since about eight weeks.
Tom Saich: I work in a school for boys with special needs and he comes to school with me everyday – he’s a therapy dog.
McLaughlin: When he was a tiny puppy we took him down in blankets to get him used to being around the kids. He’s so good around people now because he’s so used to being cuddled and fussed all day. He’s a really chilled little dog.
Do you need a lot of training to support that?
Saich: Not at all, they just need the right temperament.
McLaughlin: That’s why we picked corgi. We looked into what dogs are calm and good with being around people – corgi was quite high up on the list.
What other characteristics do they have?
McLaughlin: Well, Ziggy is a bit of a tart, he just loves to let other dogs do what they want. He loves to play, run, swim. Any lake, river or body of water we go by he is straight in.
Would you consider yourselves corgi fanatics now?
McLaughlin: Now, yes. We hadn’t even seen one in real life before we got Ziggy. Tom walked in to the cafe today, surrounded by corgis, and said “I’m not particularly a religious person, but this is heaven.”
Do you both like the royal family?
Saich: Don’t mind them.
McLaughlin: We took Ziggy to Buckingham Palace a few weeks ago and we were expecting this big moment where he’d be like “oh my god I’m at home”, but he couldn’t care less. He just wanted to go to Green Park. All of the tourists loved him, though.
James Mawer, 31, and Einstein
VICE: Why call your corgi Einstein?
James Mawer: I’m a bit of a geek and there’s an anime called Cowboy Bebop – the dog in that is called Ein and is also a corgi. I fell in love with corgis from there. I just had an affinity for one.
Has having a corgi made you more of a royalist?
Not at all! No, no, no. I never was one before and I’m not one now.
If you’re not a royalist, does that mean that Einstein isn’t? Is he patriotic for his country?
No. He’s a dog.