Elizabeth attends cabinet session


Queen Elizabeth

London: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II attended her first-ever cabinet meeting to mark her diamond jubilee, the only monarch to do so since 1781.

Wearing a royal blue coat and dress, the 86-year-old sovereign was greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron outside the door of his official residence, 10 Downing Street.

Place mats gifted
The queen received a diamond jubilee gift of 60 placemats from the cabinet to mark her 60 years on the throne and spent half an hour at the meeting as an observer, officials said.

Cameron said it was the first time a monarch had visited a cabinet meeting since king George III in 1781.

The prime minister offered Queen Elizabeth a "very warm welcome" after she took her seat in the middle of the cabinet table, with Cameron to her right and Foreign Secretary William Hague to her left.

"On behalf of everyone, I would like to congratulate you on a fantastic jubilee year," Cameron told her.

Historically, British monarchs used to chair cabinet meetings but while Queen Elizabeth remains head of state her role is largely formal and the monarchy has to remain strictly neutral in political affairs. Twelve British premiers, the first being Winston Churchill, have served during her 60-year reign but she has never attended a cabinet meeting, where secretaries of state discuss the big issues of the day.

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