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King Charles Spaniels and the myth of the royal decree

I was poking around the Internet today and came across a story that seemed perfect for Dog Jaunt in so many ways: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the U.S. includes, in its summary of the breed’s history, a note that “So fond was King Charles II of his little dogs, he wrote a decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament where animals were not usually allowed. This decree is still in existence today in England.”

Well, you can imagine my excitement. Still in existence?! Talk about a free pass! With visions of printing a copy of that decree and using it (or, heck, at least trying to — it’d make a good blog post, anyway), I dug deeper and found…well, I found that same assertion, repeated endlessly on different sites, but never substantiated.

Nothing daunted, I tried to figure out how to look up old English laws and decrees, and finally came upon the U.K. Parliament’s website, and there, as clearly as could be, the myth was blown up:

“Contrary to popular rumour, there is no Act of Parliament referring to King Charles spaniels being allowed anywhere in the Palace of Westminster. We are often asked this question and have thoroughly researched it. The House of Commons Information Office Factsheet G7 Some Traditions and Customs of the House states that ‘Dogs, except guide dogs, are not generally allowed in the Palace of Westminster.’ There is no evidence whatsoever, that spaniels have ever been officially exempt from this rule, and any dogs which have been resident in the palace with their owners were confined to private apartments, such as the Speaker’s or Lord Chancellor’s residences, and not permitted free run through the palace. Having said that, there is one recorded example of a dog, other than a guide dog being in the House of Commons chamber. On page 309 of the House of Commons Journal, in the entry for 14 May 1606. It states that ‘A strange spanyell of mouse-colour came into the House.'”

The quoted language is from a special FAQ devoted to the issue, so I’m not the only person whose eyes lit up at the thought of presenting a 300-year-old royal decree to a stunned palace guard. Drat!

1 comment

  • David Hunter

    If this decree was made before the discovery of Australia, why am I refused permission to walk my ‘cavalier’ on the beaches here in the city of Sydney ( Maroubra to be more precise, or any other sand covered area near a beach? ) is the council under State laws, under Commonwealth law defying a ‘Royal Decree’? could you please inform me of my obligations concerning this ‘Act of Parliament’

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