Queen attends Cabinet
The Queen attended Cabinet today to mark her Diamond Jubilee and spoke on two occasions.
A Number 10 spokesperson said Her Majesty took the opportunity to "gently and humorously" ask the Cabinet to make the next Queen's Speech "on the shorter rather than longer side". She also wished the Cabinet a happy Christmas upon leaving.
The Queen becomes the first Monarch in peacetime since George III to attend Cabinet, where she sat in between the Prime Minister and Mr Hague.
During the meeting she was presented with a gift of 60 place mats. The spokesperson said: "They are traditional place mats hand-finished featuring prints of Buckingham Palace mounted onto a painted base with a gold edge and sealed with heat resistant lacquer, resistant to 100 degrees Celsius... The table mats were first suggested by the Palace."
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who attended the meeting, said the Queen had appeared "very relaxed" and "in a good mood". In an interview on the World At One, Mr Pickles said: "I think one can never have too many table mats."
Former Cabinet Secretary Lord O'Donnell said this morning that he believed the Queen had been invited to attend Cabinet as a way of the Government expressing its gratitude to her.
He told the Today programme: "It's an observer role. 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."