I've read about every biography of Queen Victoria there is, but I'd never run across this pleasant anecdote until today. I'm always glad to read evidence of Victoria's sense of humor; she did have a robust one, but you have to dig hard through the material to find it.
In the earlier days, when the queen first came to Balmoral, she regularly attended Old Crathie Church, an unpretentious little building, upon whose site the new one now stands; and it is said that she used to set a salutary example to many of the visitors who came only to stare, by her devoutness and close attention to the service, always finding with her own hands the passages of the Scriptures quoted, and joining heartily in the singing. The worthy minister had a large Newfoundland dog that invariably escorted him to the kirk, gravely followed him up the pulpit stairs, where he lay down and remained perfectly quiet until the service was over. One of her majesty's attendants, thinking it unseemly for a big dog to be seen in church, remonstrated with the minister for allowing his four-footed friend to come, and possibly annoy her majesty. The minister asked whether the queen had complained of the dog. "Oh, no," said the attendant, "I should not like her majesty to need to complain." "Very well," said the minister, "the dog shall remain at home." Next Sabbath, of course, the dog's place was vacant. Not long afterwards the minister dined at the castle, when the queen in her pleasant way said to him: "What has become of your dog?" The minister explained that he understood that it annoyed her majesty and had, therefore, kept it at home. Her majesty smiled and said that the dog was "no annoyance," and she hoped "its church-going habits would not be interfered with in any way." So the following Sabbath the dog occupied his usual "sitting" at the top of the pulpit stairs.
- Excerpted from Arthur Beavan in Shriner, C. A. 1853-1945. (1920). Wit, wisdom and foibles of the great: together with numerous anecdotes illustrative of the characters of people and their rulers ... 2d ed. New York: Funk and Wagnalls. 622.