May 09, 1994 12:00 PM

EVEN IF THEY’D TRIED, PRINCE Charles’s handlers couldn’t have devised a better ploy for eliciting sympathy for their stolid charge. When the prince’s 5-year-old Jack Russell terrier Pooh vanished at Balmoral in Scotland on April 17, the animal-crazed British public responded as if an actual Windsor had been kidnapped. Novelist Jilly Cooper wrote a paean to “poor little Pooh” in the Daily Mirror, and the Daily Mail ran photos of the dog captioned, “Pooh: loved and lost by a prince.” Said a Scot who lives near Balmoral: “Everyone is upset. I saw one woman crying for the poor wee beastie.”

According to reports in the London papers, Pooh (née Roo, but renamed by Prince William for his favorite A.A. Milne character) had been on an outing with Charles and Tigger, her mother, when she darted into the woods. Charles’s whistles brought no response, and a three-day search by estate workers was fruitless. Neither Charles’s ad in the local paper nor the Daily Mail‘s offer of a $1,500 reward brought forth anyone who had seen the dog. As a heartbroken Charles headed back to London on April 21, however, there was no shortage of theories about Pooh’s fate. Some suggested that the dog had gotten herself lodged in a rabbit hole. But a psychic asserted that she had “a very clear-picture” of Pooh stuck in a sewer, and the News of the World theorized that she was devoured by a feral cat dubbed the Beast of Balmoral.

So strong was the compassion for Charles in Britain that even the news that he was commiserating over Pooh’s loss with best friend Camilla Parker Bowles (who owns a bitch from the same litter) was presented with surprising sympathy. For a Daily Mirror story featuring separate shots of the pair—he with Pooh under his arm and she with the sister—the headline read: At Least I’ve Still Got My Mistress.

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