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Question time as the Queen attends her very first cabinet meeting

December 18, 2012
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In her sixty year reign the Queen has done a lot of things, attending a cabinet meeting, however hasn't been one of them. On Tuesday that all changed when Her Majesty was due to sit in on a session of charged political discourse.


Downing Street announced that the monarch would take her place as an observer during the weekly round table discussion where Prime Minister David Cameron fields concerns and questions from senior government colleagues.  The Queen was given a prominent seat between Mr Cameron and his Foreign Secretary William Hague. Although the sovereign had observer status at the engagement, she was expected to briefly address the politicians present. It was the first time a monarch had attended cabinet since the reign of Queen Victoria – Elizabeth II's great-great grandmother and the only other British royal to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee after reaching sixty years on the throne.

Queen Cabinet meeting

The meeting is a significant step for the current Queen, who, as head of state has decisions carried out in her name but doesn't actually make them or dwell on day-to-day political processes. She is used to granting a weekly audience with the Prime Minister, where Mr Cameron updates her on recent events. However, this is the first time she ventures into his territory, Downing Street, to mingle with his ministers as they thrash out the week's most pressing issues while they unfold on the streets beyond Number 10.  The PM invited the monarch along as a goodwill gesture on her "fantastic" Diamond Jubilee year, and to thank her for her extended years of service to the British public. Inside, he and his cabinet offered her a "very warm welcome" and proceedings got underway only once the Queen had taken her seat.

Queen Cabinet

"It's an observer role," former Cabinet Secretary Lord O'Donnell told BBC Radio Four's Today show. "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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