KATE Middleton and Prince William have spoken of their heartbreak after their beloved dog Lupo died.
The couple posted the sad news on their official Instagram page, Kensington Royal, earlier this afternoon.
Alongside a picture of the pet is a caption reading: "Very sadly last weekend our dear dog, Lupo, passed away.
"He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much. – W & C."
The English cocker spaniel has often appeared in photos alongside the family, and in particular with Prince George.
He was bred from a dog owned by Kate's parents Michael and Carole Middleton and given to the Duke and Duchess as an early Christmas present in 2011.
And Lupo was so important to the family that Prince William referenced the pet in his first official interview after becoming a father in 2013.
He said: "For me, Catherine, and now little George, are my priorities. And Lupo.
"He’s coping all right, actually.
"As a lot of people know who have got dogs and are bringing newborn back, they take a little bit of time to adapt, but no, he’s been all right so far."
Lupo even helped the couple choose George's name.
Kate and William scattered pieces of paper with various names on the floor, and the dog stopped when he reached 'George', they said.
Following the little boy's birth, Lupo featured in one of the first official photographs.
He later appeared in a family portrait of the Duke and Duchess with their son in 2014.
The name Lupo is from the Italian word for wolf – and it was reported that Kate named the pet after the family of her paternal great-grandfather, Olive Christiana Middleton née Lupton.
Earlier this year, the Duchess joked about the family's pet while visiting Savannah House, a facility run by social justice charity Extern, in County Kildare.
As she played ping pong, the smiling royal said: "We try to do this at home but our dog keeps catching the ping pong balls."
And in 2019, the couple were pictured playing with puppies during an official visit to Pakistan.
The animal lovers joined handlers at the Army Canine Centre in Islamabad as they trained dogs to recognise and scout out hidden explosive materials.
Thousands of people – including actor Jennifer Garner – have already shared their condolences with the family.
One wrote: "So sorry for your loss… animals are not pets, they become family", while another said: "Rest in peace lovely Lupo."
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