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Deja Vu

September 10, 2012

To the Dogs


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2012: Monty, a Welsh Corgi belonging to Queen Elizabeth and the star of a recent Olympics-related James Bond short, has died at the age of thirteen. Descended from, a Corgi given to the Queen by her father on her eighteen birthday, Monty was regularly seen traveling with the Royal family, along with the Queen’s two other Corgis and her three Dorgis, a Dachshund-Corgi mix. Corgis have become synonymous with the British royal family in recent years. The Daily Beast takes a look at the significance of Monty’s death:

The palace declined to say whether or not Monty would be receiving a headstone, but, as 13-year old Monty was one of the Queen's oldest and most beloved dogs, it seems likely he will.

The death of Monty is particularly significant as he was previously owned by the Queen Mother before her death, and the Queen is known to take the deaths of her pets hard: Lady Pamela Hicks, the mother of India Hicks once wrote a note when one of the Queen’s corgis died and received a six-page letter back.

“A dog isn’t important, so she can express the really deep feelings she can’t get out otherwise,” said Lady Pamela.

1851: Dogs have been used to humanize royal women for centuries. In A Child’s History of England, Charles Dickens recounted the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, ill-fated cousin of the first Queen Elizabeth. Mary’s execution was a grim affair softened only by the presence of her most faithful companion:

Finally, one of her women fastened a cloth over her face, and she laid her neck upon the block, and repeated more than once in Latin, ‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!’ Some say her head was struck off in two blows, some say in three. However that be, when it was held up, streaming with blood, the real hair beneath the false hair she had long worn was seen to be as grey as that of a woman of seventy, though she was at that time only in her forty-sixth year. All her beauty was gone.

But she was beautiful enough to her little dog, who cowered under her dress, frightened, when she went upon the scaffold, and who lay down beside her headless body when all her earthly sorrows were over.

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The brutalities of progress are called revolutions. When they are over we realize this: that the human has been roughly handled, but that it has advanced.
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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