Queen Elizabeth Penned a Heartfelt Letter to the Vet Who Cared for Her Beloved Corgi, Susan

"I had always dreaded losing her," Queen Elizabeth wrote to the veterinarian about her dog, who died on Jan. 26, 1959, and was buried on the Sandringham estate

Princess Elizabeth with her pet Corgi Sue or Susan at Windsor Castle, UK, 30th May 1944.
Queen Elizabeth and Susan. Photo: Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Archive/Getty

Even in a moment of great sadness, Queen Elizabeth took the time to thank the veterinarian who cared for her beloved corgi, Susan, before her death.

Susan, the monarch's pet dog who was the matriarch of 14 generations of royal corgis, died on Jan. 26, 1959. After Susan's death, Queen Elizabeth penned a thank you note to veterinarian Harold Swann, who had tried to save the Pembroke Welsh corgi's life.

In her letter, the Queen wrote: "I would like to thank you for all you did for my dear old Susan when she became ill, and for the immense amount of trouble you took in getting her sent to Cambridge and for all the care she had while she was there. I had always dreaded losing her as I had had her since she was six weeks old, but I am ever so thankful that her suffering was so mercifully short."

The letter was signed, "Yours sincerely, Elizabeth R," with the "R" standing for "Regina," the Latin word for queen.

A grave for Susan, a pet corgi of the Queen buried on the Sandringham estate photographed on January 01, 1980 in Sandringham, England.
Anwar Hussein/Getty

Susan was buried on the Sandringham estate with a special headstone that read, "For almost 15 years, the faithful companion of the Queen." The monarch "personally chose the inscription for the headstone," Caroline L. Perry, author of The Corgi and the Queen, tells PEOPLE.

The future monarch was surrounded by dogs (and corgis, in particular) throughout her childhood, but it was for her 18th birthday that she received Susan as a gift.

"Susan was there for many of the most important moments in Elizabeth's life," explains Perry. "She was by her royal companion's side when Elizabeth joined a women's regiment when the Princess served her country during the war. She was there when her companion married Prince Philip, who became the second love of Elizabeth's life! Susan also provided comfort when Elizabeth's beloved 'Papa' King George VI died; when she was crowned Queen at the age of only 25, and when she became a mother."

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II pictured on January 31, 1959, at her office with her Corgis dog Susan.
Queen Elizabeth and Susan. AFP via Getty

Queen Elizabeth stopped breeding her corgis descendent from Susan in 2012 as she didn't want to leave any behind when she died. However, she received two puppies in March 2021, shortly before Prince Philip's death. After one of the dogs died just weeks later, Prince Andrew gifted his mother with a new puppy on what would have been Philip's 100th birthday.

Muick and Sandy were outside as Queen Elizabeth's coffin arrived at her final resting place at Windsor Castle during her Sept. 2022 funeral processions. (The Queen's dogs now live with Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, at the Royal Lodge in Windsor along with five Norfolk terriers. Fergie told The Telegraph: "They all balance out, the carpet moves as I move but I've got used to it now.")

The Queen's corgis, Muick and Sandy are walked inside Windsor Castle on September 19, 2022, ahead of the Committal Service for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth's corgis at her funeral. GLYN KIRK/POOL/AFP via Getty

Queen Elizabeth was so closely associated with her corgis that the dog breed is even featured on gifts at the Royal Collection Shop.

"Susan's legacy was enduring," says Perry. "Because of her — and her descendants — the corgi will forever be the symbol of the second Elizabethan age."

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The Corgi and the Queen by Caroline Perry
The Corgi and the Queen. Godwin Books

The Corgi and the Queen by Caroline Perry with illustrations by Lydia Corry is now on sale.

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