Antarctic tract named for Queen Elizabeth

Dec. 19, 2012 at 12:29 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Queen Elizabeth II received two Jubilee gifts Tuesday, 60 lacquered place mats from Britain's Cabinet and a large swath of Antarctica from the Foreign Office.

The queen received the first present during a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing St., The Guardian reported. Prime Minister David Cameron remarked that the last monarch to attend a meeting was King George III in 1781 as the American Revolution was winding down.

When the queen's visit was announced, the prime minister's office said Queen Victoria had also attended at least one Cabinet meeting, but that was apparently an error.

The queen said little during the meeting. She wished her ministers a merry Christmas and suggested the queen's speech, given every year at the opening of Parliament, could be shorter.

The place mats show views of Buckingham Palace from the Royal Archives. The Cabinet also donated an unannounced sum to a charity of the queen's choice.

The queen's next stop was the Foreign Office. There, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced 169,000 square miles of the British Antarctic Territory is being named Queen Elizabeth Land.

"The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of 14 U.K. overseas territories," Hague said. "To be able to recognize the U.K.'s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honor."

Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, said ministers had all taken special care to be ready for the royal visit.

"All the shoes were shiny, freshly polished, with the exception of Ken Clarke's Hush Puppies," he said, referring to Minister Without Portfolio Kenneth Clarke.

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