Pampered, high-profile, endlessly photographed and with an entourage of personal chefs and servants, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's beloved pugs enjoyed a charmed life that many canine friends might aspire to. Anecdotes from those who met the couple illustrate the extent of the Windsor's devotion to dogs.
The Windsor Pugs
Pugs have been popular with British royalty since the 17th century when King William and Queen Mary arrived from the Netherlands with their pet pugs. Queen Victoria's love of pugs revived the breed's popularity in England, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor took pug-loving to new heights. During their life together, the couple who rocked the foundations of the British monarchy owned at least 11 pugs. One of the Duke's valets once remarked that the pugs were the children that the Windsor's never had. The most famous of the Windsor pugs were Dizzy -- named after British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli -- Winston, Davy Crockett, Mr. Chu, Rufus, Minoru, Trooper, Ginseng and Diamond. Most of the Windsor's pugs were bred in the United States.
One celebrated story about the Duke and his pug, Diamond, who slept in his bed, is that Diamond ran way from home two weeks before the Duke died. But to everyone's surprise, Diamond returned home just hours before the Duke passed away.
An invitation to dine at the Windsor's palatial Parisian home in the Bois de Boulogne was something society members would kill for. On these sumptuous occasions, the Duke greeted guests flanked by his four pugs on gold Cartier leads. Earlier in the day, as part of preparations for the party, staff primped and clipped the pugs, who were then sprayed with Miss Dior, the Duchess's favorite perfume, and dressed in mink and diamond-studded collars. In 2008, Bonham's auction house put on sale some of the collars and leads worn by the Windsor pugs for an estimated sale price of $6,000, showing just how famous these pooches were.
Canine Silver Service
The Windsors' pugs dined out of solid silver bowls. When it came to the pugs' dinners, the Duchess wrote out a weekly doggie menu for the chef to follow. The Windsor pugs dined on capon breast, calves' liver and ground steak. All the dog's meat was bought fresh daily and cooked moments before serving. Also, these pugs didn't have packets of dog biscuits; the chef baked fresh doggie biscuits every day.
Staying at the Waldorf Astoria
The Duke and Duchess traveled internationally with their pugs, and as New York was the Duchess's favorite shopping city, the Windsor pooches often arrived in style at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. On one occasion, according to a story from the hotel's archives, staff at the famous hotel were delighted when the couple arrived without their pugs, who by all accounts were not well house-trained. However, their joy was short-lived when on the third day of their stay, a friend of the couple turned up at the hotel with the gift of yet another "undisciplined" pug. It was rare for the Windsors to go to any social occasion without their pugs. These pooches partied with presidents, royalty and film stars -- if only dogs could talk!
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.