Wednesday, December 19th 2012 - 01:52 UTC

Queen Elizabeth becomes first monarch since 1781 to attend a cabinet meeting

Queen Elizabeth became on Tuesday the first monarch, since 1781, during the US war of independence, to make a historic visit to Downing Street and attend a cabinet meeting.

The Queen sat at PM’s chair next to Cameron and Hague

She met ministers, who gave her a set of 60 place mats, to mark her Diamond Jubilee after 60 years on the throne.

The Queen joined the cabinet while they were updated on a range of forthcoming parliamentary business.

After leaving Downing Street she went with Foreign Secretary William Hague to the Foreign Office, where it was announced that the southern part of the British Antarctic Territory had been named.

At the cabinet meeting, the Queen sat in the PM's usual seat - with Mr Cameron and Mr Hague sitting on either side of her.

It is believed to be the first time a monarch has attended peace-time cabinet since George III in 1781. George I ceased to chair cabinet in 1717.

The Queen's father, King George VI, attended war cabinet during the Second World War.

The cabinet which usually meets weekly, is the group of 20-30 senior ministers who are responsible for running the departments of state and decide government policy

After arriving at No 10, the Queen was introduced to each of the government's senior ministers in turn, as they bowed or curtseyed.

She shared jokes with Chancellor George Osborne, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

After the Queen and the cabinet had taken their seats, Mr Cameron formally welcomed her to the meeting and outlined the items of business on the agenda.

It began with Chief Whip Sir George Young talking about the change to royal succession rules, to allow a first-born girl to become head of state even if she has a younger brother.

There were also updates on the forthcoming parliamentary business and Ken Clarke spoke about prospective justice measures.

There was a much larger than usual press pack opposite No 10, although, unlike normal cabinet arrivals and departures, no questions were shouted at the Queen as she arrived and left.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said during cabinet, the Queen “very gently and humorously, on the section regarding the next Queen's Speech encouraged it to be on the shorter rather than longer side”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said all Cabinet ministers had ensured their shoes were “shiny, freshly polished - obviously with the exception of Ken Clarke, who wore his customary Hush Puppies”.

“The Queen seemed very relaxed, in a very good mood and took an enormous interest in the Cabinet discussion,” he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

“I think people were perhaps more considered in what they say, but nevertheless it was a proper discussion on the general economic situation and the inflation figures and Afghanistan.”

Asked whether she might have enough table mats already before today's gift, Mr Pickles said: “One can never have too many table mats.”

He dismissed suggestions from some that the Queen was crossing a constitutional line by attending the cabinet.

“We are her cabinet, we operate for her. She was sat in the seat where the Prime Minister traditionally sits and, given it's her cabinet, she can come any time she wants.”

While the Queen is head of state, her involvement in day-to-day political decisions is largely formal.

The prime minister visits her regularly for an audience where he updates her on events, while she is also expected to rubber-stamp ministerial decisions at meetings of the Privy Council.

The Queen plays a central ceremonial role in the state opening of Parliament, when she travels by ornate horse-drawn coach to the House of Lords to read out a speech prepared by ministers unveiling details of their legislative plans.

She also retains the power to appoint the prime minister.

Rodney Barker, professor of government at the London School of Economics, said her attendance at the cabinet was “daft”, because “it will mean potentially the Queen will know things she is not supposed to know and hear things she is not supposed to hear”.

But Professor Jane Ridley, biographer of Edward VII, disagreed, telling BBC Radio 4's Today it was “testimony of the Queen's ability to elevate the monarchy above politics” that she could attend cabinet.

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord O'Donnell told BBC Radio 4: ”I'm sure cabinet want to do this because they want to say thank you. I mean, I've always viewed the Queen as kind-of the ultimate public servant. You think what she's done during her jubilee period and they just want to say thank you.

21 comments Feed

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1 willi1 (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 11:44 am Report abuse
2 ChrisR (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 12:54 pm Report abuse
@1 No, she is not TMBOA and your post is juvenile, now piss off back to the shit-hole you call Argentina.
3 briton (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 02:27 pm Report abuse
Apparently CFK lodged a complaint to the UN today,
Complains that she should have been invited to the meeting,

Claiming argentine overseas sovereignty, aliened to the Falklands.
4 ChrisR (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 03:26 pm Report abuse
@3 briton

And afterwards they could have followed the tradition of how to deal with troublemakers in the old way and have her beheaded at the Tower.

At least that would have improved her looks!

5 Britworker (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 04:43 pm Report abuse
An old lady who is doing and looks great for her age. Unlike the Botox ridden mess in charge of Argentina.
6 ChrisR (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 06:36 pm Report abuse
5 Britworker

7 emerald (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 06:37 pm Report abuse
Does her Majesty really aware of the Governments and their functions ?
8 Pirate Love (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 07:18 pm Report abuse
@1 help me out here, what was that sound ringing around the hills of Port stanley on 14 june 1982???
oh yes i remember......

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save The Queen!

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks, ( :DDDD)
On Thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause To sing with heart and voice God save the Queen!

Beautiful!!! do you remember argies, the day you surrended???

9 reality check (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 07:54 pm Report abuse
How about having, met, talked with and entertained every major leader of any importance in world politics for the last 60 years, answer your question!
10 emerald (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 08:07 pm Report abuse
Leader(s) ?
What /which leader(s) !
All are puppets...nothings.

live in real world not in fantasy land.
11 Pugol-H (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 08:12 pm Report abuse
Dear Malvinstas

Still time to take part if you hurry!!!
12 Brit Bob (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 08:38 pm Report abuse
Yanks are still coming:

13 Nostrolldamus The 3rd (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 08:47 pm Report abuse
Just inuring the Brits for the return of absolute monarchy.
14 Pirate Love (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 09:02 pm Report abuse
@13 yep thats one view, and another view, as observer status Her royal heirness was their as a viewer and nothing more, absolute monarchy?
so queen victoria, king george both have observed at the cabinet did they impose absolute monarchy? think not!

Your Absolute monarchy theory, Absolute Bullsh*t theory more like. Try again

15 JohnN (#) Dec 19th, 2012 - 10:59 pm Report abuse
This is good news for 60th! Queen Elizabeth Land in Antarctica complements Norway's Queen Maude Land next door.

News story with map:

Google blog page, “Become an Antarctic explorer with panoramic imagery” has some imagery in Queen Elizabeth Land:
16 reality check (#) Dec 20th, 2012 - 07:34 am Report abuse
Speaking of Muppets, how's Miss Piggy, she must be rolling in pig shit since the IOU LIBERTAD has sailed.
17 briton (#) Dec 20th, 2012 - 01:40 pm Report abuse
4 ChrisR
Totally agree.

If you Argies really believe,

Then you won’t be here on Saturday will

18 Zethee (#) Dec 23rd, 2012 - 05:17 pm Report abuse
13: If you're going to troll at least make an effort.
19 British_Kirchnerist (#) Dec 24th, 2012 - 04:43 pm Report abuse
The head of state really should be elected. Right now Elizabeth Windsor might well win, but on principle there should be an election
20 ChrisR (#) Dec 24th, 2012 - 06:20 pm Report abuse

So a Scottish traitor wants to stand on PRINCIPALS!

WHEN YOU GET SOME we might just listen to you.

You disgust me.
21 JohnN (#) Dec 24th, 2012 - 06:27 pm Report abuse
There are many examples of functional democracies with elected head of state, but many constitutional monarchies also tend to float to the top of the UN's Human Development Index, are usually very clean according to the Corruption Perception Index, as well as being generally very peaceable.

For example, constitutional monarchies Norway, Australia and the Netherlands lead the UN HDI 2011, also 6 of top 10 and 9 of top 30.

Correlation is not causation, but such high rankings would tend to support an argument that constitutional monarchies are clearly not an impediment to full human and social development.

UN HDI Rank:
Corruption Perception Index:
Global Peace Index:

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