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What does a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog Wear to the Coronation?

June 9, 2023


Imagine a parade of small pups, trotting in formation down the King’s Road in Chelsea. Silken fur flows beneath rippling red velvet cloaks and heads are held high, lest their tiny crowns topple. Before them march a squadron of Chelsea Pensioners, clearing the way for these 150 noble dogs, these Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, chosen to celebrate the coronation because, well, because of the name. And because we thought it would be funny.


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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Coronation Parade. Photo: Dave Edwards.


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Well, keep imagining, because it didn’t quite work that way. 150 dogs assembled, under what felt like 150 rain clouds. They wore their crowns, they wore their cloaks, they had matching red leads. They looked wonderful. And damp. We, their human companions and servants, waited for the off, blowing bubbles and proffering biscuits to distract and appease this notoriously rain-averse breed. They generally do not like to get their paws wet. If it happens, they will remind you of their lap dog status and demand you sit down, on a rain-soaked bench if necessary, in order to offer them your nice, cosy, and above all dry lap.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were developed as lap dogs and bed-warmers, which explains their behaviour plus an insistence on being in the bed, under the covers, every night. Mine does not have the ability to burrow under the covers herself, and will wake me to get her all snuggly, then snore happily to make sure I stay awake until she needs me next.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, named for King Charles I

Image: Love My Human

Image: Love My Human.

Anyway, the breed was named after King Charles I, who so adored them that he modelled his hairstyle on them. Well, that’s probably not true, but their fine, shiny, long, wavy ears do bear a striking resemblance to his signature hairdo. In any case, he did like them very much. Just to be awkward, the current King Charles prefers Jack Russells. I do not believe a photographer even persuaded him to hold a spaniel’s lead on the big day.


Anyway, back to our crowd of canines, awaiting marching orders from the Major Domo of the Chelsea Pensioners. We awaited and awaited. Unfortunately in vain, as they had long ago set off. Sensible chaps. They didn’t fancy their lovely uniforms getting soaked. They did their thing and got home quicksmart for a nice cup of tea.

Famous Damp Doggies

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Parade. Image: Love My Human

Image: Love My Human

A full half an hour afterwards we draggled after them. I think it was a fine display of eccentricity, and the foreign press made the most of it. Our damp doggies were photographed and filmed, and several reporters thrust their microphones at me asking for an interview.


Unfortunately I was entirely unprepared and devoid of soundbites. I could only thrust our soggy doggy King Charles Spaniel into my partner’s arms and push her forward into the spotlight, where she did an excellent job. I imagine some German and Italian news channels are even now fondly replaying the best bits of her interview, performed while Maja licked her face delightedly.

Just Doing My Job

Chelsea Pensioner and Chelsea Dog.

Chelsea Pensioner and Chelsea Dog. Photo Genevieve Jones

We did later see the odd stray Chelsea Pensioner, who agreed to a photo with our tiny royalty. It turned out my live interview skills were just as bad as my interviewee skills though, ie non existent. Asking a very tall Pensioner with excellent bearing what his glittering array of medals was for, he merely said “Just for turning up to my job”.


He may have signed the Official Secrets Act. He may have killed some people. Or rescued them. I don’t know.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Bliss Cavalier Rescue

The event was organised by Love My Human and Cavaliers of London, and sponsored by Arden Grange, Adios, and Sloane Stanley and others in aid of Bliss Cavalier Rescue. Unfortunately this beautiful breed, gentle and sweet, are often bred to have flatter faces than necessary, and to be on the small side. This causes pain and breathing problems. As well as this, King Charles Spaniels sheer popularity means that some of them are confined to completely inhumane puppy farms.


Bliss do a wonderful job of rescuing many of these ex-breeding dogs as well as others. They have also given me unstinting advice. I encourage you to support them too and adopt, don’t shop.

The Pensioners With Excellent Fashion Sense

Chelsea Pensioners are often seen around the area, as they are based at the Royal Hospital. This is not (just) a Hospital. It’s more a magnificent accommodation for retired servicemen from the British Army, with a hospital attached. They are invariably magnificently dressed in either their navy blue everyday uniform, which is accented with gold braid and brass buttons, or their dress uniform, which is similar but even more striking, being scarlet. It’s based on the British Army uniform of the 17th century, when the Royal Hospital was founded. The outfit comes complete with white gloves, and a ceremonial tricorn hat, or a pretty little black pillbox cap.


The Royal Hospital building in Chelsea used to be the headquarters of the British Army’s pension system, and so all ex-servicemen drawing a pension were known as Chelsea Pensioners. Nowadays it’s the title of just a few. If you don’t have the honour of bumping into one picking up a sandwich in Marks and Spencer’s, you’ll have seen them laying a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. Or, indeed, marching around Chelsea on Coronation day or other high days and holidays.