Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Archive/Getty Queen Elizabeth and Susan
Queen Elizabeth's beloved companion — her corgi, Susan — was by her side on her wedding day.
The history-making monarch's relationship with her dog is documented in the new picture book The Corgi and the Queen by Caroline Perry, who tells PEOPLE how then-Princess Elizabeth made sure Susan had a secret role her wedding to Prince Philip on Nov. 20, 1947, 75 years ago this Sunday. As the royal couple rode in a carriage on the way to their honeymoon, Susan was stowed away under a rug with a hot water bottle to keep her warm — with the thousands of people gathered to wave having no idea!
"That was such a lovely detail, that she wanted to have her best friend by her side on the biggest day of her life," Perry says, noting that, "You can kind of see from Elizabeth's face — she was beaming."
PA Images via Getty Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day in 1947
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were taken to Waterloo Station, where they traveled by train to Hampshire — with Susan along for the ride, of course.
The Pembroke Welsh corgi then accompanied the couple on their honeymoon, where she was photographed playing outdoors with the newlyweds a few days after the wedding ceremony.
The future Queen Elizabeth 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 a constant companion throughout World War II and King George VI's death, making Elizabeth the Queen at just 25.
Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Susan, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth
"A lot of people wonder why she chose the corgi breed," Perry tells PEOPLE. "People who have corgis will tell you — they're such amazing dogs, but not easy dogs. They're very spirited — some of her corgis did get into scrapes; Susan did get in trouble a couple of times. Even for a very experienced dog handler like the Queen, corgis are not for novice dog owners. The fact that she loved them so much, I think it speaks to the fact that she wasn't able to express her emotions and feelings."
Godwin Books The Corgi and the Queen
"She really used her dogs as an expression of herself. She couldn't choose her life, but she could choose her companions," Perry says. "The fact that these corgis are so spirited, so lively and so mischievous, I think in some way that was her way of expressing how she felt inside but wasn't able to convey. She was so prim and proper and never put a foot wrong, did she? Yet these naughty dogs are doing all kinds of things that maybe she wished she could do."
Perry, who participated in Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee Pageant in June and saw the monarch as she stepped out on the Buckingham Palace balcony in one of her final public appearances, said she woke up at 2 a.m. to watch the Queen's funeral in September, as she is based in California.
The author said that when the monarch's two corgis, Muick and Sandy, were spotted as Queen Elizabeth's coffin arrived at Windsor Castle for the committal service, "that was the moment that broke us all." (Although the Queen stopped breeding her corgis descendent from Susan in 2012 as she didn't want to leave any behind, she received two puppies in March 2021, not long 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.)
Queen Elizabeth "had overseen almost all aspects of her funeral before she passed, so she must have wanted the dogs to have been there at that exact moment," Perry adds.
GLYN KIRK/POOL/AFP via Getty Queen Elizabeth's corgis at her funeral
Perry hopes readers can relate to the "love story" between Queen Elizabeth and her dogs.
"Even though none of us can relate to living in a palace and none of us can relate to being the Queen and reigning for 70 years, I hope in this book that everyone can relate to the fact that we all have that need for unconditional love, no matter where we live or who we're related to," she says. "That is very much what I wanted to come across in this book — that yes, there was immense privilege that came with being a princess and then the Queen, but there were also unique challenges that we can all relate to — to loneliness, to isolation, to fear. Just the human experience, isn't it? I hope that people see the Queen in a different way and can maybe relate to her experiences a little bit more."
UPI/Getty Queen Elizabeth
The Corgi and the Queen by Caroline Perry with illustrations by Lydia Corry is on sale starting Nov. 22.