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Queen Elizabeth II makes rare visit to Cabinet

JEREMY SELWYN/AFP/Getty Images

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, center, sits flanked by British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, right, as members of the Cabinet pose for a picture. Queen Elizabeth II attended her first-ever cabinet meeting on Tuesday to mark her diamond jubilee, the only monarch to do so since 1781.The 86-year-old sovereign sat in as an observer on the meeting and received a gift from the Cabinet to celebrate her 60 years on the throne.

LONDON — As part of celebrations to mark her 60 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday became the first British monarch to attend a Cabinet meeting since George III in 1781.

The queen, 86, was greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron at his Downing Street residence in London and introduced to Cabinet ministers from the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who bowed as a mark of respect.

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In the Cabinet room, she sat between Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague as Chief Whip George Young, who steers legislation through Parliament, updated colleagues on the passage of current bills. Television cameras cut away as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was due to talk about the economy.

‘‘The prime minister opened by welcoming Her Majesty to the Cabinet,’’ Cameron’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, told reporters in London. ‘‘The last sovereign to attend Cabinet was George III in 1781. The prime minister was able to inform Cabinet that Anglo-US relations had improved markedly since then.’’

‘‘The general event was very good-natured,’’ Gray said. On leaving, ‘‘she wished them all a very happy Christmas,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s an observer role,’’ Gus O’Donnell, the former head of the civil service, told BBC Radio 4’s ‘‘Today’’ program. ‘‘I’m sure Cabinet want to do this because they want to say thank you. I’ve always viewed the queen as the ultimate public servant. You think what she’s done during the jubilee period, and they just want to say thank you.’’

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