From Buckingham Palace to the White House, Rosemary McLeod digs into how dogs add a sense of comfort to a problematic world.
You can rely on soft toys for comfort in a problematic world. They stay mostly the same – what does a missing eye matter, and who cares if their furry bodies are balding? They haven’t really got mange.
I still have my teddy bear. It’s many years since he was fluffy, and someone once tried to draw a mouth under his nose in pencil. That will be the reason why I throw him out in the end. He should bear – as it were – no one’s mark but mine. A soft toy, above all, must be loyal.
As you get older, and embarrassment about your dolls and bears taints your relationships with them, pets take their place. I get, then, why President Joe Biden took his family’s two dogs to the White House with him, and why the Queen, at her advanced age, decided recently to get two corgi puppies. With a family like hers – as wilful as our own – she needs the unconditional love of creatures that don’t care about her title and would pee in her slipper given the chance. As a cat once did to mine.
With a family like hers, she needs the unconditional love of creatures that don’t care about her title and would pee in her slipper given the chance
The Queen has always had corgis, her still point in the turning world.
What a handful she has otherwise in her nearest and dearest.
Prince Andrew stands accused of enjoying the services of girls provided by his friend, the notorious Jeffrey Epstein, and his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, languishing now in a New York jail where she enjoys no privacy, ever. Maxwell’s having to sell her London mansion to pay her lawyers over this. What a feeding frenzy that will be.
Her Majesty has the heir apparent, Prince Charles, to worry about too. Not only was he a lousy husband for his first wife, who provided him with sons, but he married the mistress he’d kept throughout that miserable marriage after Princess Diana’s death in a paparazzi car chase. He lost respect. Diana became an icon.
Her two sons, William and Harry, have taken up mental health as a cause, and shared that they’ve had issues themselves, but who would have expected Harry’s wife to reveal she’d had suicidal thoughts while locked up in the royal world? Her car keys taken from her, she was expected to live an isolated life between public appearances, and nothing she wanted to do was allowed for reasons elderly men insisted on. People forced to quarantine for Covid in hotels have had a taste of that.
Meghan was not adequately warned of the tedium that awaited her, or possible racism, and now some royal staff complain that she was mean to them. What wusses. At least they can drive around the block, lunch with friends in pleasant restaurants, and even go to the movies if they feel like it. With popcorn.
The Queen’s husband, aged 99, is recovering in hospital from surgery. He will actually die one day, the funeral will be epic, and she’ll be sad.
Male radio jocks have attacked Meghan cruelly for telling her truth about suicidal thoughts and racism amid the British aristocracy. A good-looking woman of colour can expect no mercy from the quarter. She wasn’t trained in self-denial and the art of the stiff upper lip, for goodness’ sake. She’s from California.
Biden’s Alsatians had to be sent home to Delaware to calm down. One of them bit a Secret Service man at the White House, described as “an unfamiliar person”. Canines, too, have trouble adapting to palace life.
There’s a theory that people’s naughty pets reflect their own unconscious. I couldn’t blame Biden for feeling grumpy after the awfulness of his inauguration, but I can’t see him biting anyone. Except his predecessor, for which I’d forgive him.
The Queen’s corgis will learn immaculate manners, as befits pets fed fillet steak daily by her own jewelled hand. On top of that, they look very cuddly. I can’t say as much for all the Mountbatten-Windsors.