Queen Elizabeth II is seen in this file photo with one of her corgis. Picture: AP/PA

London - The British queen has been left deeply saddened by the death of a corgi she adopted after the dog’s owner died.

Twelve-year-old Whisper had become a royal favourite following the death earlier this year of Willow – the last corgi she reared herself.

She had taken in the dog in 2016 after its owner Bill Fenwick, a former Sandringham gamekeeper, died. Mr Fenwick’s late wife Nancy was known as the "keeper of the Queen’s corgis" and always looked after the royal pets when Her Majesty was away on tours.

Her offer to take in Whisper was seen as returning the favour. Over the last two years she had become especially close to Whisper who devotedly followed her from room to room throughout Buckingham Palace.

Although she still has two dogs, Candy and Vulcan, they are dorgis, dachshund and corgi crosses. They are also rather more familiar with the Queen’s routine.

"Whisper was a friendly chap and followed her everywhere," says a source.

"The Queen has quickly become very attached to the dog." The death of any of her corgis has always hit her hard and Whisper’s was no different.

It came as she was preparing to welcome the Dutch King Willem for the start of this week’s state visit.

Whisper is understood to have become ill some weeks ago but was well enough to travel back to Windsor from Balmoral at the end of the Queen’s summer break.

But alarmed by the dog’s worsening condition, vets were called in last week while the Queen was at Windsor Castle and it was there that Whisper died six days ago. It is not known what the cause of death was. But a number of corgis, including Willow, died from cancer-related illnesses.

The dog’s death brings to an end a personal connection for the Queen dating back to 1944 when she received Susan, her first Pembroke Corgi as an 18th birthday present.

All her subsequent corgis – apart from Whisper – can trace their lineage back to Susan, and the Queen became an expert on the breed.