Queen given flowers by assistance dog during West Sussex visit

The Queen is quite used to receiving posies of flowers during her visits, but today’s was quite different – they were delivered by a dog!

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During a visit to West Sussex today, Her Majesty dropped in to see the Canine Partners charity, who are celebrating having trained 400 assistance dogs to look after their disabled owners. Prince Harry visited the centre in 2010.

Yarna the 7-year-old Labrador – who is descended from one of the royal litters at Sandringham – was given the posey and instructed to deliver it to the royal guest; unfortunately she dropped the flowers, not quite placing them into The Queen’s hands, but Her Majesty seemed impressed nonetheless.

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There were plenty of four-legged greetings for the Monarch, including 12-week-old puppy Flint; “He’s very friendly, isn’t he? Not shy,” Her Majesty said, but called one enthusiastic animal rather “licky”.

“She was very relaxed and very interested,” the dog’s trainer Ruth Narracott said. “She wanted to know about his breeding, whether we bred him or whether we breed them outside, how old he was and how relaxed he was.”

Of course, Her Majesty is a dog lover, with her famous corgis in the palaces and spaniels and labradors a her country homes, mostly gun dogs.

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The Queen, dressed in pale pink boucle, also met staff and volunteers who act as adoptive parents for the puppies until they are about 14 months old, the time they begin the next stage of assistance dog training.

The animals are trained to help adults who need physical help in their daily lives. The dogs’ amazing skills were demonstrated to the VIP, which include taking clothes from the washing machine, opening doors, picking up small items that have been dropped, such as keys and wallets, and helping someone take their coat off.

Laughing, Her Majesty found it amusing that Wilko, a 14-week-old Labrador, kept skipping his last hurdle, to run through the tunnel. “Is he supposed to do that?” she asked, chuckling. “He’s missed out that end one!”

Interestingly, Col Alan Jukes, 94, was introduced to The Queen, surprising her. He had carried regimental colours at her wedding to Prince Philip 70 years ago, in 1947. “Did you really? It’s a long time ago,” Her Majesty said.

Before leaving, The Queen unveiled a plaque to mark her visit. She was presented with a selection of presents for her corgis.

It was then on to the Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT), to watch a performance of the Christmas production, Beauty and the Beast, by 70 members of the youth theatre.

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Omid Djalili performed for the special royal guest, songs from CFT’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, and Oona, a life-size elephant puppet from the previous production, Running Wild, also came out to greet The Queen.

There was another plaque unveiling to mark the royal visit, ending the day of engagements.

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