The Daily Telegraph

Queen’s faithful pony and corgis wait for their mistress to return one last time

Bitterswee­t sight of late monarch’s beloved animals waiting patiently at Windsor Castle moves many to tears

- Judith Woods Additional reporting by Patrick Sawer, Lizzie Roberts, Helen Chandler-wilde and Will Bolton

After the leave-taking, a homecoming. After the journey, a final destinatio­n. And after extraordin­ary scenes of pomp and pageantry, the poignant sight of the Queen’s corgis waiting at Windsor Castle for their mistress to return.

Bright-eyed and expectant, they scanned every face, puzzled by her absence, certain that she would come. Her dogs, Sandy and Muick, had no reason to think she would not.

Her Majesty’s fell pony, Emma, was there too; waiting; as steadfast and constant as her rider. The late Queen’s headscarf, a favoured accessory in which she was often seen when riding or watching the races, is thought to have been draped over the saddle.

After days of ceremony and circumstan­ce, spine-tingling choral music in Westminste­r Abbey and the stirring sounds of massed pipes and drums, it was the bitterswee­t sight of the animals she loved most that reminded us of the Queen’s humanity and moved many onlookers to tears.

No-one doubts the dogs will be cared for by the Duke of York, who, along with his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, gifted them to his mother in 2021. After years of service, Emma will enjoy retirement.

Neverthele­ss, it was a lump-in-thethroat moment on a day when the Queen’s coffin came to rest, as we knew it would, at Windsor Castle.

“Welcome home, Ma’am!” someone shouted from the Long Walk, as the cortège passed on its slow progress up The Long Walk.

A murmur of agreement from the rest of the crowd then silence.

Here in her favourite royal residence, Elizabeth II would be reunited with her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, laid to rest alongside the man she called her “strength and stay”.

Some 97,000 people came out to bear witness and express their appreciati­on of her devotion to duty over the past seven decades.

Families with hampers picnicked on the grass, toddlers ran around waving Union flags as parents drank takeaway teas in folding chairs and grandparen­ts kept their places by the barrier.

The unexpected autumn heat lent the gathering a relaxed, festival mood.

“Her Majesty’s parting gift to us,” one teenager observed drily. “A sunny bank holiday.”

“We couldn’t do this in London,” said Joshua Pigott, 39, an IT manager from Kent, gesturing to his three sons playing cards on a tartan rug. “There’s no way I could have persuaded them to queue all night. Being here is more of a good day out, but one they will hopefully never forget.”

Emma Boryer, 47, from Warminster, served as a major in the Royal Signals, as attested by the medals from Former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Afghanista­n on her chest.

Married to a serving officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, they had brought their son and daughter along to pay their respects.

“The Queen was my boss for 17 years. I wanted to show my gratitude for all she has done throughout her 70-year reign,” Ms Boryer said.

“Coming here feels more intimate and personal because it was her home – and our children came here to climb trees and play in Windsor Great Park during lockdown.”

Throughout the morning, outdoor screens had broadcast the sombre rituals of Westminste­r Abbey. Billions watched the coverage across the globe.

But however dazzling the state funeral in all its gilded glory, for the people of Windsor, seeing the procession on its way to the intimate committal in St George’s Chapel was undeniably the main event.

The former head gardener at Ascot who came to the Long Walk with three generation­s of his family, spoke with fondness of meeting the Queen and her husband at dinners hosted at the racecourse.

George Thompson, 81, from Frimley, Surrey, travelled to Windsor Castle to pay his respects to the late monarch whom he “once saw dancing at 2am in the morning”.

“The Queen used to come to Ascot regularly for dinners and barbecues,” he recalled.

“The Queen was always invited. I met the Duke of Edinburgh once when I was doing the barbecue and he pointed at the two most charcoalco­vered sausages and said: ‘I want those ones’.”

“The Queen was always relaxed,” he added. “I once saw her dancing and jiving away at 2am in the morning.”

Windsor Castle, founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, was the royal residence the Queen always considered home.

It was where she and her late sister, Princess Margaret, were sent during the Second World War, while their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, remained in London.

She learnt to ride on the Long Walk – her ponies are still stabled here – and so it seemed only natural for her to have spent most of the pandemic at Windsor along with the “HMS bubble” of 22 staff members.

It was also in the tranquil setting of this estate that the Duke of Edinburgh spent his last months before his death in April last year, just two months shy of his 100th birthday.

At her husband’s funeral in St George’s Chapel, our monarch cut an isolated figure; punctiliou­sly, poignantly sitting alone as Covid regulation­s dictated.

In the starkest of contrasts, recent days have seen hundreds of thousands of people from Britain, the Commonweal­th and beyond turn out to pay their respects to our longestrei­gning monarch.

Since her passing on Thursday Sept 8, guardsmen, soldiers and family members have held vigil so the Queen, in her oak casket, was never alone. As her subjects queued for many hours, and walked many miles to file past and bid farewell, it has been clear just how much careful thought has been given to the delicate balance between the public and the private.

In recognitio­n of the Queen’s many roles – monarch, head of the Commonweal­th, wife, mother, head of a family – elaborate ceremony has been interspers­ed with stillness, the drumbeats of pageantry punctuated with introspect­ive quietude.

Space was made for laughter, too, in the infectious camaraderi­e of the Queue.

There has been, to paraphrase Ecclesiast­es, a time to mourn and a time to celebrate, a time to shed tears, a time to give thanks.

The Queen’s afternoon arrival at Windsor marked the last leg of an astonishin­g, dignified journey that began last Saturday when her cortège swept through the gates of her Balmoral estate, carrying her coffin from Royal Deeside to the Palace of Holyroodho­use in Edinburgh and then, days later on to London for her lying in state at Westminste­r Hall.

Yesterday morning her casket was transferre­d to Westminste­r Abbey for her glittering state funeral, attended by crowned heads, world leaders and politician­s of every hue.

But also – and no less honoured, no less welcome – ordinary citizens who had made extraordin­ary contributi­ons to British life.

Another short procession – this time including Prince George and Princess Charlotte – accompanie­d the late Queen to the state hearse that would take her to Windsor.

As the hearse containing the casket made its way along the tree-lined Long Walk, well-wishers bowed their heads, curtsied, cried, or simply watched, lost in thought.

Windsor has always felt great pride – a sense of possessive­ness, even – when it comes to its royal residents.

“We have a special connection to the royals,” said Ingrid Marchesa, 52, who lives on the edge of the town. “We’ve always seen them out and about down the years but nobody bothers them because this is their home – they shouldn’t have to feel they are on display.”

During the Covid lockdowns, every Friday morning her ground staff would send the Queen a fresh bouquet of flowers from one of the three gardens in Windsor Great Park.

Now bouquets and posies are piled up in the moat in memoriam. It was what she would have wanted.

The young may flinch at intimation­s of mortality. The old are much less squeamish. And just as Prince Philip designed his own hearse, a modified Land Rover in military green, so did the Queen help choreograp­h her funeral, specifying that her state hearse should incorporat­e as much glass as possible to afford the best view.

On the Long Walk it was a view like no other.

The bright clatter of horse hooves heralded the arrival of the coffin draped in the Royal Standard, the Imperial State Crown, sceptre and orb on top, with a jewel-bright wreath.

Blooms thrown from the roadside had landed on the car bonnet; purple gladioli and white chrysanthe­mums, red roses and yellow sunflowers strewn against the windscreen.

The cannons boomed every minute, a guard of honour lined the route drawn from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.

The Queen herself once crisply observed that she “had to be seen to be believed”. As the crowds saw her casket pass by, they believed. It truly is the end of an era.

While up in Windsor Castle two loyal dogs pined for a Queen who has gone forever.

‘Coming here feels more intimate and personal because it was her home’

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 ?? ?? The monarch’s fell pony, Emma, with the late Queen’s headscarf draped over the saddle, greets the funeral procession, top; the Queen’s corgis, Muick and Sandy, await the return of their mistress, right; children make a Union flag out of conkers, above
The monarch’s fell pony, Emma, with the late Queen’s headscarf draped over the saddle, greets the funeral procession, top; the Queen’s corgis, Muick and Sandy, await the return of their mistress, right; children make a Union flag out of conkers, above
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