A new exhibition of photographs showing the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and her beloved corgis opens in London on Wednesday, celebrating her bond with the dogs. The exhibition, titled "The Queen and Her Corgis", features images taken during the late sovereign's life, showcasing her unique bond with her Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

"We've got this very small but really exquisite exhibition that shows nine photographs taken of the queen and her corgis and they chart her life every 10 years," exhibition curator, Xavier Bray, told AFP. The images capture her as a young girl to monarch on official duty, he said. "You also see her up in Balmoral, relaxing with the corgis and even at Windsor giving them a walk," he added, referring to royal estates in Scotland and just west of London, respectively.

The photographs, chosen from a pool of over 5,000 images, range from informal snapshots to formal portraits -- each capturing a moment in the queen's 96-year life and her bond with the breed. The earliest image in the collection dates from July 1936 with a young Princess Elizabeth playing with a pair of corgis named Jane and Dookie in a garden at the home where she grew up in London. Another photograph features her posing with Susan, the corgi from which many of the dogs she would later have during her reign were descended.

'Very intimate'

"You see the queen but from a very different perspective through this extraordinary relationship that she had with her corgis," Bray said. "When you have a dog in the relationship, it's very intimate, it's personal."

The little sandy-colored canines with pointy ears were a constant presence in the queen's court, following her from room to room in Buckingham Palace and often featuring in official photos. As well as corgis, she also kept dorgis, a breed which came about when one of her corgis had a chance encounter with her sister Princess Margaret's dachshund Pipkin.

Bray's favorite image in the collection, he said, is "the one of her sitting on a rock by a beautiful cascade up in Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands. She's with her corgis and it just captures the spirit very beautifully."

One of the images on display was taken on the day of the monarch's funeral on 19 September 2022. It shows two pageboys standing outside St George's Chapel on the Windsor Castle estate, where her coffin was interred, with two of her corgis -- Muick and Sandy -- after a walk. - AFP