Thursday, September 20, 2012

King Edward VII's Favorite: Caesar, the Wire Fox Terrier

Thursday, September 20, 2012
Isabella reporting:

One of our most popular posts last year featured Queen Victoria and perhaps her favorite subject: her pet border collie, Sharp. Sharp was only one of many dogs in the royal entourage during the queen's long reign, and it's clear she passed her love of pets on to her oldest son, Edward.

In the last years of his life, King Edward VII's favorite was a feisty wire fox terrier named Caesar. Officially named Caesar of Notts, born in 1898 in the kennels of the Duchess of Newcastle, Caesar was widely known as a high-strung little dog with questionable manners. Disgruntled courtiers and hosts to royal visits referred to Caesar as "stinky."

But to the King, the dog was a loyal and inseparable companion that travelled everywhere with him. He slept in an easy chair beside the King's bed, and had his own footman specifically assigned to tend to his needs. His portrait was painted several times, and a model of him was carved in chalcedony and studded with jewels by the master jeweler Faberge. As was fitting for such an indulged royal pet, Caesar wore a collar with a gold tag that read "I am Caesar. I belong to the King" - not that it was ever in doubt.

Certainly Charles Hardinge, 1st Baron Hardinge of Penshurst, could testify to that. "Whenever I went into the King's cabin [on board the royal yacht]," he reminisced, "this dog always went for my trousers and worried them, much to the King's delight. I used not to take the slightest notice and went on talking all the time to the King, which I think amused His Majesty still more."

But it wasn't until the King died in 1910 that Caesar endeared himself to the British people. Caesar was included in the King's funeral procession, led by a highlander, and the sight of the little white dog walking forlornly behind his master's coffin was an image that many never forgot, right. (One who definitely didn't was Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was reportedly incensed at being placed behind a mere dog in the procession.)

Caesar was painted one last time, bottom left, with his head resting on a favorite chair of the dead king. Called Silent Sorrow, the painting poignantly captured the dog's grief for his lost master. Although Caesar shifted his devotion to Queen Alexandra, he did not live much longer than the king, dying himself in 1914.

Top left: King Edward VII with Caesar, 1908.
Right: Funeral process of Edward VII, with Caesar, the King's dog, following his casket, 1910.
Bottom left: Silent Sorrow, by Maud Earl, 1910. American Kennel Club.


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was kinda neat. I'm a dog lover, and I can believe the dog really grieved for his master.

Isobel Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isobel Carr said...

Sounds like the Queen's horribly behaved corgis are a royal tradition! By all reports (and there was just a long one in the Daily Mail), the corgis and dorgis that live at the palace now not only bite the hands that feed them, but soil the palace at will.

Anonymous said...

I've just found, read, and wept over, a slim volume called "Where's Master?" Written by Caesar. I was so glad to discover that the passage about the loyal little dog and Kildare, the King's horse, following the cortège was true.

I'm listening said...

There is currently a photograph of George Bush’s Labrador laying by the coffin of his master who has recently died. It’s very moving.

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