Friday, 24 May 2013

Interesting old book find - Our princesses and their dogs.

I picked up this rather tattered and forlorn faded blue hardback as I was intrigued by the title and wondered what I might find inside. It turns out that it is exactly what is says it is - a book about Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and all their dogs. There is very little writing but there are a number of very lovely pictures. So I snapped it up and took it home.

Princess Margaret with Choo-Choo the grey and white
Tibetan Lion.
This book, written in 1936 by Michael Chance, is dedicated by the princesses to 'All children who love dogs'. I think that is very special, it shows a normal part of life in a really not very normal family. I think that is also what makes the pictures special, because if it wasn't for their famous faces (and the massive play house the size of a normal person's home), you could just think this was a portrait of an ordinary dog loving family. It is lovely to see the children genuinely having fun, not performing a duty.

The photographs are taken by Studio Lisa. This was formed by the photographer Lisa Sheridan and her husband. In the 1930s they were asked to take some photographs of the Royal family and from what I can work out this book is the result of their first photo session.

Princess Elizabeth was born on 21st April 1926 and Princess Margaret was born on 21st August 1930 making them 10 and 6 when these photographs were taken. Many of the photos are taken in the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park which was their country home. The people of Wales gave the play house Y Bwthyn Bach (the little cottage) to Elizabeth in 1932.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret with Lady Jane - a reddish brown
Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi.

Princess Elizabeth with Jane and Dookie. Jane is
eighteen months old and Dookie is three and a half.

The children with their mother Elizabeth, Duchess of York,
 with a corgi hiding behind her skirts.

The Duke of York with Choo-Choo, a corgi and his six year old yellow
Labrador Mimsy. Also, take a look at his mighty fine socks.

The family with all their dogs.

Princess Elizabeth with Dookie.

Apparently when told to lie down the dogs posed themselves around the
girls for this picture!

Rather awkward looking but spot the corgi sneaking into
the shot.

At the 'play house'.

Just to place this moment in history we may need a quick lesson. Princess Elizabeth's granddad was King George V. She was third in line to the throne after George's two sons Edward, Prince of Wales and George, Duke of York, her father. In 1936, the year this book was published, George V died. Edward came to the throne as King Edward VIII but abdicated by the end of the year to marry Wallis Simpson. So George became King George VI and his coronation took place in 1937. This made Elizabeth first in line to the throne.

It is quite strange to look at these happy and relaxed pictures and think of the family traumas and dramas that were to play out by the end of that year.

I have not included much of the text of the book because, frankly, it makes me want to vomit with its saccharine, crawling tone. Needless to say they are the best dog owners in the world, can communicate with their animals like no others, everyone is charming and the princesses are a 'joy to everyone throughout the length and breadth of Britain'. You can probably make up the rest.

That aside, I really enjoyed this book as the pictures are lovely, the characters come through, it is  a different side of the Royal Family and most of all, I really like dogs.


  1. What a tremendously charming book. I so adore that corgis have been a part of The Queen's life since she was a wee little girl (they're one of my favourite dog breeds, too). I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these images (I tried showing the computer screen to Annie so she could see, too, but she just tried to lick the keyboard :)), thank you for posting them.

    Many sincere thanks as well for your blog comment yesterday. I tend to be really hard on myself about my appearance, whether it's justified or not, and agree that I often need to cut myself more slack. Thank you for the important reminder.

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* Target is a big box store that sells clothing, household items, toys, patioware, food, and the like - it's much akin to Walmart.

    1. That is a lovely image of Annie, she is just the most gorgeous thing. Dogs do give us some giggles. Last night my dog sat bolt upright from being asleep, looking around for other dogs in response to the barking he heard from the television! I do love images of people and their pets and this book made the Queen seem that bit more real person to me. Thanks for the information on Target, sounds like you can find everything there!

  2. Wow, what an amazing book, I love all the candid images. Such a far cry from what you usually see of the royals.

    1. Wouldn't it just be so much nicer if we got to see them in this way a bit more often, as real people rather than just in a formal way?!