British queen takes her seat in Cabinet

British queen takes her seat in Cabinet

British queen takes her seat in Cabinet

Queen Elizabeth II (C) sits between PM Cameron (C-L), and Foreign Secretary Hague in a Cabinet meeting in the first such visit since Queen Victoria.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II attended a Cabinet meeting yesterday to mark her diamond jubilee, in the first such visit by a monarch in more than a century.

The 86-year-old sovereign swept into Prime Minister David Cameron’s official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London for the gathering of senior government ministers.

The queen received a diamond jubilee gift from the Cabinet to mark her 60 years on the throne, and also sat in on their meeting as an observer, Buckingham Palace said.

Historically, monarchs used to chair Cabinet meetings but the last one to exercise their right to attend was queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother, who died in 1901. Cabinet meetings usually last around an hour and a half but the queen attended for 30 minutes, before leaving with Foreign Secretary William Hague for a visit to the Foreign Office, which is on the other side of Downing Street.

Boat-shaped table

The queen sat in the middle of the table, with Cameron to her right and Hague to her left.

The green, boat-shaped table was introduced by Harold Macmillan, who served as prime minister from 1957 to 1963, to allow him to see all his ministers.

Though Queen Elizabeth is Britain’s head of state, her role in exercising power is largely formal and the monarchy has to remain strictly neutral in political affairs.