A History Of Royal Pets: From Cats And Corgis To Chameleons And Monkeys

If you think about it, the royal family and animals go hand in hand. Throughout history, royalty is often depicted on horseback, and most members of the royal family today still learn to ride. There’s even been a whole breed of dog named after an English king, and a teenaged Queen Elizabeth once held a funeral for her pet chameleon. In fact, looking back at the history of royal pets reveals some truly fascinating and unexpected stories.

Prince William’s pony

Royals love to ride horses, so they get their kids started early. Prince William was a mere four years old when he first got an adorable gray pony by the name of Smokey. It was almost as big as he was! You’ll note that in the photographs that exist of William and Smokey, William has been quite rightly given a riding helmet for protection.

Smokey the Shetland

Smokey was well known around the royal residences. In April 2022 one-time palace chef Darren McGrady said on his YouTube channel, celebrating the prince’s wedding anniversary, “I still remember Princess Diana bringing William down to the kitchens of Balmoral Castle just before he was going riding on his little Shetland pony, Smokey. He’d have a glass of orange juice and a piece of chocolate cake… where did that time go?”

Horse riding family

William developed a deep love of riding after his childhood experiences with Smokey, and he often rides and plays polo on horseback. And even though Catherine, Princess of Wales — less romally, Kate — isn’t overly interested in equestrianism, both parents have taken steps to make sure their children are comfortable around horses. Prince George and Princess Charlotte apparently both take lessons, riding on ponies just as small as Smokey was.

Prince Harry’s rabbit

Prince Harry had a pet rabbit as a kid, but it seems he wasn’t very gentle with it! Footage from the era exists and in it his dad — now King Charles III — can be heard telling his two-year-old son how to pet the bunny. Unfortunately, all the toddler was able to do was flail and hit it on the head, and then William started pestering his parents to give him the animal instead. Kids, eh?