Royal Tweets: King George V and His Parrot

The royal family love their pets. Her Majesty’s life-long love of corgis and horses is no secret. She passed on her equestrian pursuits to her daughter, Princess Anne and to her sporty granddaughter, Zara. Several other members of the family have horses and dogs, too – even Siamese cats (Princess Michael).

King George V was different. Did you know that the Queen’s grandfather was partial to feathered friends? The king had a bird called Charlotte, whom he acquired during his time as a midshipman. During a stop at Port Said, the then-prince took a liking to the African grey and brought her home to Britain. [1]

Charlotte was his close companion for the rest of his life. She sat on the king’s shoulder as he read state papers and memos. She had even picked up his lingo, often shouting, “What about it?” and “Where’s the captain?”. At dinner, Charlotte would sit at a table near the king and nibble her seeds or an apple core. She also perched confidently on the hands of various dinner guests, who did not always share that confidence. [2]

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George V with Charlotte (far right).

In a touching display of devotion, Charlotte paced and muttered during the king’s illnesses and took great delight and relief when she could be admitted to his presence during his convalescence.

Perhaps his love of birds came from his mother, Queen Alexandra, who also had a pet parrot. Queen Alexandra even had an Australian species named for her, Polytelis alexandrae or Queen Alexandra’s Parakeet/Rose-throated Parakeet.  These little beauties are found in the arid regions of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia.

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When I heard that the king had a parrot, I was delighted. I have a parakeet now named Snowy (for Tintin’s dog) and previously a small, feathered “son” called Percy. He was a dream; beautiful blues and green shimmer, and he could talk all day – “Mandy is a good bird, birdbirdbird!” and would even ask “Where’s the big bird?” when my uncle took his cockatiel home after a visit.

They are delightful little beings for royals and commoners alike!

What is your favorite royal pet? Answer in the comments below!

[1] T.H. White, The Book of Beasts, Page 114.
[2] Denis Judd, George VI, Page 7.

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