Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis know the joys of having a dog — thanks in part to their uncle James Middleton!
Kate Middleton’s younger brother, 36, said he’s “really pleased” that his niece and nephews are growing up with a pet in a new interview with OK! Magazine. Prince William and Princess Kate’s first family dog, Lupo, was a puppy from James’ beloved dog Ella’s litter, and their current dog Orla was also a gift from James after his pet Luna had babies.
“I’m really pleased that they are able to enjoy and have the benefit of a dog in their lives,” James said. “I see them being lucky that they have a dog in their life.”
James recalled not having a dog until he was a teenager after he would “write letters to my parents to try to convince them to let me have one.” Eventually, the Middleton family got a golden retriever named Tilly.
“I found a lot of solace in my dog, Tilly, particularly when I was a young teenager,” the Ella & Co. founder told the outlet. “She knew all of my secrets at the time — who I fancied and all of those little tricky parts that come with growing up that I never told anybody.”
Orla, a Celtic name meaning “golden princess,” joined Prince William and Princess Kate’s family shortly before their dog Lupo died in Nov. 2020. In May of that year, James announced that his dog Luna had welcomed “six healthy little pups,” adding that he wouldn’t be keeping the puppies himself as “they all have lovely homes waiting for them” — and it was later revealed that one went to his sister.
Princess Charlotte appears to have a particularly special bond with Orla. In a new portrait released to celebrate her 8th birthday earlier this month, Charlotte wrapped her arms around the cocker spaniel in a field of flowers as she gave a smile to the camera.
Orla also appeared in one of Princess Charlotte’s 7th birthday portraits the previous year.
In addition to her cameos in Princess Charlotte’s birthday pictures two years running, Orla joined Kate at one of Prince William’s charity polo matches last year.
James has several dogs, but he has credited Ella with helping him battle depression — and introducing him to his wife, Alizee Thevenet.
When Ella died in January, James wrote in an essay for The Sunday Times that the pup impacted his entire family. He revealed that “all the family” attended Ella’s burial, sharing that Pippa and her husband James Matthews — like Princess Kate and Prince William — have a dog descended from Ella.
“All the family came to say their goodbyes. I can’t speak for them, but I believe she influenced their lives too,” he wrote. “Lupo, Catherine and William’s dog, was one of Ella’s puppies. My sister Pippa and her husband have a pup from Ella, as do other family members.”
When James attended King Charles’ coronation with his sisters and parents earlier this month, he brought along a memento of Ella: her image on a pin.
“Ella still comes with me everywhere I go…even to the coronation 👑 🇬🇧,” he captioned an Instagram post showing the special accessory. “Very proud day to be British. 🇬🇧 God Save the King 🇬🇧”