Cameron opened the meeting by saying it was the first time a monarch had attended a full cabinet since George III in 1781. He said Anglo-American relations had improved since then.
Apart from expressing the hope that the next Queen’s Speech would be shorter rather than longer, the Queen remained silent during her 45-minute appearance at the cabinet table but, according to the communities secretary Eric Pickles, she took a close interest in the discussion on the Afghan war led by Hague and Philip Hammond, the defence secretary.
In a sign that cabinet is no longer the true epicentre of decision-making it was not until a meeting in the afternoon of the national security council that ministers agreed a 4,000 troop drawdown next year in Afghanistan.
Although she has visited Downing Street before, the Queen was given a lightning tour of No 10, being taken from the Terracotta room to the Pillared room where her ministers stood in line to greet her.
It was during this guard of honour that she lapsed inadvertently into politics. Referring to her recent visit to the Bank of England, she told the chancellor George Osborne, ‘I saw all the gold bars, which, regrettably, somebody said don’t belong to us.’
A smiling Osborne replied: ‘Some of them were sold, but we’ve still got some left.’ Osborne has spent much of his political life criticising Gordon Brown for his sale of the gold.
King, Queen and Princesses Singing at a Camp Sing-Song [Full Resolution]. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Mother), Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret are at the King’s Camp at Abergeldie Castle near Balmoral, Scotland in 1939. King, Queen and Princesses seated amidst campers singing “In a dustbin’ and ‘Under the spreading chestnut tree’. (Youtube: British Pathe)
At midday on Monday the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun royal salute in London’s Hyde Park to mark the start of the diamond jubilee, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne. At 1pm the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.
Rare archive tv and film footage of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 - a rare occasion when Parry’s anthem ‘I was glad’ includes the chant of ‘vivat regina’. (NOTE: this clip starts in black and white and moves into colour).
The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, designed by Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, is to go on display at Buckingham Palace on Saturday. The dress will be in the palace’s ballroom from 23 July to 3 October during its annual summer opening.
Today, the Queen and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge were given a tour of the exhibition, but the Queen voiced some displeasure at the display. The BBC’s Nicholas Witchell reports.
“There were a lot of references to Victorian corsetry, the padded hip, the tiny cinched-in waist, and also to the arts and crafts movement with all of the hand-work on the lace of the dress and also the bustle inside to create the shape of the back of the dress.
“It has an essence of Victorian but we cut the dress in a very modern way. It is in a very light fabric. Also the pleats and the folds create a modern feel rather than a historical piece.
“I think what we wanted to achieve was something that was incredibly beautiful and intricately worked.”
Oh the gorgeous Blossom-days!
When broad flag-flowers drink and blow,
In and out in summer-blaze
Dragon-flies flash to and fro;
Ashen branches hang out keys,
Oaks put forth the rosy shoot,
Wandering herds wax sleek at ease,
Lovely blossoms end in fruit.