Royal pets

Bits & Pieces Miscellaneous

Are there any royals that own cats my own cat Prince Harry asked? Honestly I can only think of one: Princess Michael of Kent.

Traditionally royals own horses and dogs. Horses were used to ride or to pull a carriage from A to Z. You needed them when going hunting. Dogs were to guard the house or were used during hunts. Cats were mainly to guard the house and stables to catch mice I assume. Somehow still today you hardly see any royal being pictured with anything else than dogs, or eventually horses.

Princess Michael of Kent already for many years has Siamese and Burmese cats, next to the family dogs. When she turned 70 in 2015 a photo of her was issued, in evening dress and tiara, and a cat in her arms. During an interview in 2016 the Burmese cat Ruby and the Siamese cat Cali were pictured with her. It wasn’t the first time a cat graced the official photos of the Kents. “Cat” is even the nickname of the Princess, whose actual name is Marie-Christine. She has revealed she fell in love with cats when she found a stray cat as a child. Her love is even extended to big cats, like cheetahs. In 1984 she told in an interview that one time she had nine cats and revealed:

“Yes I love cats, I love dogs, I love all animals – anything on four legs with fur on more or less qualifies.”

It is not unusual however for royals to own other animals than dogs and horses. Sometimes there was even a zoo in the royal gardens, so one would find quite unusual animals in the possession of the royals. Whether you can regard them as pets is another story I guess. When researching further there is much more to be found.

  • Ta-Miu was the cat of Thutmose, the eldest son of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye. After her death, she was mummified and buried in a decorated sarcophagus.
  • Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of the English King Henry VIII, had a pet monkey.
  • His sixth wife Katherine Parr had parrots.
  • Queen Elizabeth I of England is thought to have owned a guinea pig, and during her reign they became fashionable throughout the country.
  • King Louis V of France loved his angora cat Brillant, who would come to wake him every morning.
  • Empress Catherine II the Great loved the Russian Blue casts, and even gave them to ambassadors as gifts for other sovereigns.
  • Empress Joséphine of France had various animals at the Malmaison Castle. Among them an orangutan called Rose. She sat on a chair, wore dresses and even ate at the table using a knife and fork.
  • King Leopold I of the Belgians had dogs, but a painting by Eugène-Joseph Verboeckhoven showing his beloved pets also show a monkey and a parrot.
  • The household of Queen Victoria of Great Britain included birds. In August 1834, she was given a blue and green Brazilian parrot, who received the name of Pedro. In May 1836 her uncle Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha gave her a parrot called Lory. She also once had an African grey parrot called Coco. Here is her eldest son Prince Edward with one of the parrots in 1843.
  • Queen Victoria’s son Prince Leopold in 1856 owned a cat called Snowdrop.
  • Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Alice received a lamb called “Milly”. Although the little princess loved the gift, the lamb didn’t like the princess.
  • Empress Elisabeth of Austria loved parrots. One of the first gifts by her fiancé, Emperor Franz Joseph was a parrot.
  • The family of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia kept cats. The cat of the eldest daughter, Grand Duchess Olga, was called Vaska. The cats sometimes were photographed with the family.
  • The British Queen Alexandra was once officially photographed with a pet kitten.
  • King George V of Great Britain owned an African grey parrot from the Congo named Charlotte. He bought it in the 1880s apparently, and it was still alive tens of years later.
  • In the 1980s Princess Madeleine of Sweden had a rabbit called Snuffy.
  • Marvin the Hamster lived for some years with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children. The Duchess revealed his existance in May 2016, and as hamsters don’t have a long life, I expect he isn’t alive anymore.
  • The Earl of Wessex in June 2020 revealed that the family has a tortoise “who basically rules the house”.

If you know about any other royals owning a pet once that is not a dog or a horse, I’d be interested to hear about it.

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