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

Jeremy Selwyn / AFP - Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II takes a seat at the table between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague at a cabinet meeting in London on December 18, 2012 to mark her 60 years on the throne.

Jeremy Selwyn / AFP - Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II listens next to Prime Minister David Cameron during the cabinet meeting inside No 10 Downing Street.

By Rachel Elbaum, NBC News — 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.

Jeremy Selwyn / AFP - Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II received a gift of place mats from the cabinet to celebrate her 60 years on the throne.

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

"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. Read the full story.

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Jeremy Selwyn / AFP - Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II sits flanked by Prime Minister David Cameron (L) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) as members of the cabinet pose for a family picture at No 10 Downing Street.

Jeremy Selwyn / AFP - Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II sat in the prime minister's usual chair at the table. The 86-year-old sovereign sat in as an observer on the meeting.