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Team GB Olympic Gold Winners Celebrate At Buckingham Palace (PICTURES)

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Great Britain's Olympic and Paralympic heroes have been honoured at a glittering Buckingham Palace reception hosted by the Queen.

Star sportsmen and women who won gold for the nation during the summer's extravaganza of sport were invited to the palace on Tuesday to mark their achievements.

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The Queen talks to double 2012 Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds

The athletes arrived in their official Team GB formal wear of suits, which included a special inside pocket for their medals.

The Queen, joined by the Duke of Edinburgh and Duchess of Cambridge, had watched the Olympic opening ceremony - and famously took part.

Team GB began the summer's medal rush by winning 65 in total, including 29 golds, an achievement that was hailed as the athletes' "greatest ever" performance by Andy Hunt, their chef de mission for London 2012.

The sportsmen and women easily surpassed their Beijing 2008 medal haul of 47.

Amongst the sports stars who delighted the home crowds and the world with podium topping performances were heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and sailor Ben Ainslie and double gold-winning runner Mo Farah.

The Paralympics saw Great Britain achieve unprecedented success with 120 medals, including 34 golds.

Memorable performances included wheelchair athlete David Weir winning four golds, swimmer Ellie Simmonds powering home to two victories in the pool while sprinter Jonnie Peacock lit up the stadium with his blistering win in the T44 100 metres.

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The Duchess of Cambridge with Heather Stanning (C) and Helen Glover during the reception

Sarah Storey cemented her place in the history books by winning four golds on her bike, taking her to 11 titles overall in a Paralympic career as both a swimmer and cyclist.

Para-equestrian rider Lee Pearson, who won his 10th Paralympic gold medal at the Games with a silver and bronze, was among the first guests to arrive.

He said: "I was driving down here and reminding myself that it had been a home Games and that made it a bit more special.

"Coming here to Buckingham Palace to celebrate a home Games is also special because so many of the Royal Family came out to watch us."

The Queen and Philip met prime minister David Cameron, health secretary Jeremy Hunt - formerly culture secretary - and other senior figures who made the Games possible, including Lord Coe, former chair of London 2012, in the Palace's 18th Century Room.

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The Queen talks to Paralympic Olympic champion David Weir

They were soon joined by Kate, wearing an outfit by Alice Temperley, who chatted to all the guests and shared a laugh with the prime minister.

Mr Cameron said before joining the main reception: "It was an amazing summer and I think people will cherish those memories, you know, almost more then the 1966 World Cup.

"I think people will look back and just think, 'what an incredible summer' - success after success, medal after medal and the whole country putting on its very best face for the world.

"What matters now is that we maximise the momentum and the legacy following the Olympics and Paralympics.

"We had a cabinet meeting about that today and Seb Coe was there, and we were talking about the physical legacy of East London, the important economic benefits we want, there's the sporting legacy carried through to Rio and school sport, there's also the legacy in terms of attitude to disabilities, which I think is a real chance of a step change in our country."

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Royal Reception For Team GB Medallists
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