Queen makes history at Downing Street

The Queen became the first monarch to attend the Cabinet since the 18th century as David Cameron welcomed her to Number 10 yesterday.

She took a seat around the Cabinet table between the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary William Hague for the weekly discussion of Government business.

Mr Cameron congratulated her on her “fantastic” Diamond Jubilee year and said the last monarch to visit the Cabinet was believed to have been George III in 1781.

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Cabinet ministers stood around the table while the Queen was shown into the room by Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. After waiting for the Queen to take her seat, the Cabinet followed suit and the Prime Minister offered her a “very warm welcome”.

“On behalf of everyone, I would like to congratulate you on a fantastic jubilee year,” he said.

The Queen was wearing a Stewart Parvin royal blue wool dress and matching coat, and a sapphire and diamond broach.

Mr Cameron said Downing Street had been researching the last monarch to visit the Cabinet.

George VI had met with the Cabinet during the Second World War, he said, but added: “We think the last time a monarch came to the Cabinet was in 1781, during the American War of Independence.

“But I’m happy to report that relations have improved slightly since then.”

After his initial remarks, the Prime Minister said they would get on with a “proper Cabinet agenda” starting with an update on parliamentary business by the Chief Whip, Sir George Young.

The Cabinet gave the Queen 60 table mats with images of Buckingham Palace as a gift, Downing Street said.

It also made a donation to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, set up as part of the celebrations to mark her 60 years on the throne.

The Foreign Office has also announced that an area of British Antarctica has been named Queen Elizabeth Land.