Annie Leibovitz
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June 06, 2016 04:35 PM

A war surgeon is sharing an incredible story of how the Queen’s beloved corgis came to his rescue.

During a visit to Buckingham Palace in 2014, Dr. David Nott – who had just returned from Syria, where he had been volunteering in war zone operating rooms – was speaking with Queen Elizabeth when he was suddenly overcome by an episode of PTSD.

One of Britain’s top vascular surgeons, Dr. Nott has volunteered for 20 years with Doctors Without Borders and the British Red Cross in crisis-hit areas like Sarajevo, Afghanistan and Syria. He had just returned from Syria 10 days earlier, where he had operated on gravely injured children.

“She must have detected something significant,” Dr. Nott told BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday. “I didn’t know what to say to her. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to speak to her – I just couldn’t. She picked all this up and said, ‘Well, shall I help you?’ I thought, ‘How on earth can the Queen help me?’ ”

He added, “All of a sudden the courtiers brought the corgis, and the corgis went underneath the table. And she went to one of the courtiers and said, ‘Can we open up that, please?’ So she opened up this lid and there was a load of biscuits. So she got one of the biscuits and broke it in two and said, ‘Okay, why don t we feed the dogs?’

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“And so for 20 minutes during this lunch, the Queen and I fed the dogs. She did it because she knew that I was so seriously traumatized. You know, the humanity of what she was doing was unbelievable.”

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And it helped. “Stroking animals, touching them and feeding them – we just talked about the dogs and how many she had. She was just so warm and so wonderful. I will never forget it.”

Queen Elizabeth
Rupert Hartley/REX/Shutterstock

Dr. Nott told the radio program, “I do suffer” from post-traumatic stress – an issue for which the Queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, has been working to raise awareness – adding, “It takes me about three months to get over missions sometimes.”

He also shared a harrowing incident when he had to stay silent so as not to reveal his nationality to some ISIS fighters who arrived at the makeshift hospital in need of help. “I remember so vividly my legs shaking like jelly,” he recalled. “I don t care who I operate on. We are all human beings.”

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