Princess's Bull Terrier Cleared

Princess Anne, daughter of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, stands with her English bull terriers at her Gloucestershire, England home in this Sept. 1, 1996 file photo.
AP
The prime suspect in a royal whodunit has been cleared.

Princess Anne's bull terrier Dotty didn't fatally maul a corgi belonging to Queen Elizabeth II shortly before Christmas, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday. Instead, the palace pointed the blame at one of Anne's other terriers, Florence.

Media reports had identified Dotty, a dog with a violent past, as the culprit after Pharos the corgi was attacked at the royal family's Sandringham estate early last week. The corgi was badly injured and had to be put down.

The incident prompted widespread speculation that Princess Anne would have to destroy Dotty, who attacked two children in a park in 2002, landing her owner with a $880 fine. But the terrier's future appeared brighter after Buckingham Palace announced she was no longer a suspect.

"We understand that it was Florence," a spokesman for the royal household said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are confirming that it wasn't Dotty."

Buckingham Palace had previously refused to comment on the incident. Asked why it had taken so long to announce which terrier mauled the corgi, the spokesman said "there was a Christmas in between. People weren't around to communicate to the press."

The palace said it was a matter for the queen and her daughter to decide whether Florence would be put down. British newspapers reported that the terrier had no history of violent behavior.

The 77-year-old queen is a noted corgi fancier, and has owned more than 30 of the petite Welsh cattle dogs, starting with Susan, who was given to her on her 18th birthday in 1944. The death of Pharos leaves the monarch with eight corgis and dorgis — a breed that resulted from one of her corgis mating with a dachshund.