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Queen Elizabeth given place mats by UK Cabinet as thanks for 60-year reign

Jeremy Selwyn / AFP - Getty Images

A picture shows place mats which were presented to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II when she sat in on a Cabinet meeting inside 10 Downing Street in central London Tuesday.

Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET: Queen Elizabeth II sat in on a U.K. Cabinet meeting for the first time in her reign Tuesday, after an invitation from ministers wanting to present her with a gift celebrating her 60 years on the throne, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said.

Wearing a royal blue dress and diamond brooch, the queen was met at her car by Prime Minister David Cameron outside his official residence, 10 Downing Street.

She met with members of the Cabinet in a side room and then took a seat between Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague to observe the weekly meeting.

PhotoBlog: Queen breaks with centuries-old tradition and sits in on UK Cabinet meeting

While she was there, the Cabinet presented the queen with 60 place mats in honor of her six decades on the throne, the palace said.

An historic first as Queen Elizabeth attends a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

“We think the last time the monarch attended the Cabinet was in 1781 during the American War of Independence,” Cameron said at the start of the meeting, according to video footage.

Diamond Jubilee celebrations: Queen 'touched' by 'happy atmosphere'

The queen, whose duties are mostly ceremonial, spoke twice during the meeting, Downing Street told NBCNews.com.

Born third in line to the throne, she never expected to ascend to it, but a twist of fate led to her becoming Queen Elizabeth II at a young age. Now the woman who once famously said she would have enjoyed a quiet life in the country is celebrating a six-decade reign. NBC's Meredith Vieira reports and speaks with Charles Anson, the queen's former press secretary.

Once to encourage ministers not to make her annual queen’s speech -- when she reads the government's plans for the year -- too long and then again to wish everyone a “happy Christmas.”

Slice of Antarctica named after her
Since she assumed the throne in 1952, the queen has sat through the terms of 12 prime ministers.

Also on Tuesday, the U.K. announced that the southern part of the British Antarctic Territory had been named Queen Elizabeth Land in honor of her 60 years on the throne.

The area in Antarctica is almost twice the size of the U.K., according to the government.

“The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of 14 U.K. Overseas Territories,” Hague said on the U.K. Foreign Office website. “To be able to recognize the U.K.’s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honor.”


Her Majesty celebrates 60 years on the throne.

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Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating 60 years on the throne. Watch archival footage from her childhood and ascension to the throne to the present day.