The Queen has become the first monarch for at least a century to attend Cabinet, taking a seat beside Prime Minister David Cameron at the famous Number 10 table.

Arranged to mark her Diamond Jubilee, she will be presented with a gift paid for through contributions by each Secretary of State.

But although she is expected only to observe the discussions and not contribute to the debate, the move has been criticised by a constitutional expert.

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Rodney Barker, emeritus professor of government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said it was "daft" and would blur the boundaries between government and monarchy.

At what is believed to be the first such visit since the reign of Queen Victoria, she will sit between Mr Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Officials said the Queen would leave before the end of the meeting to fulfil other diary commitments - including a visit to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


Elizabeth Windsor
Just wondering if full state regalia including the Imperial State Crown might be over-doing it for the Cabinet meeting?


John Prescott
No one's thought though the implications of the Queen's attendance at Cabinet. Clegg's going to have to get another coffee

Accompanied there by Mr Hague and the FCO's top civil servant Simon Fraser, she will meet staff and be presented with a memento of her overseas state visits.

Downing Street refused to disclose any details about the gift she will be presented with but said all members of the Cabinet had contributed to it equally.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The Queen will be visiting Downing Street and she will be presented with a gift from the Cabinet to mark her Diamond Jubilee year.

"She will then attend Cabinet as an observer. I think she will sit round the table and I think she will sit alongside the Prime Minister."

Although the head of state performs some ceremonial and formal duties relating to government, including the state opening of Parliament, they must remain strictly neutral on political matters.

Prof Barker said he believed the move was "inappropriate".

"I think it is daft, it muddies the waters," he added.

"It will mean potentially the Queen will know things she is not supposed to know and hear things she is not supposed to hear."

He said: "Cabinet meetings, on the whole, are to confirm what has already been agreed but there is some sort of discussion.

"Presumably tomorrow they are all going to sit there agreeing and nodding their heads."

Prof Barker said the Queen would not be able to make any contribution because the role of head of state was "totally apolitical".

He said it was a surprising decision by Buckingham Palace but added that "they must have their reasons".

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  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prime Minister David Cameron as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II arrives with Prime Minister David Cameron as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II arrives with Prime Minister David Cameron as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Place Mats that was presented to Queen Elizabeth II when attended the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prime Minister David Cameron as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II arrives with Prime Minister David Cameron as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prime Minister David Cameron as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prime Minister David Cameron as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II poses for a group photograph with the Cabinet in the Pillared Room as she attends the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London.

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II arrives at 10 Downing Street as she visits to attend a cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) greets Queen Elizabeth II as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. The Queen's visit to the weekly Cabinet meeting as an observer is the first time a monarch has attended the meeting since Queen Victoria's reign. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) greets Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. The Queen's visit to the weekly Cabinet meeting as an observer is the first time a monarch has attended the meeting since Queen Victoria's reign. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) greets Queen Elizabeth II as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. The Queen's visit to the weekly Cabinet meeting as an observer is the first time a monarch has attended the meeting since Queen Victoria's reign. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II is met by Prime Minister David Cameron outside 10 Downing Street in central London, prior to attending a Cabinet meeting in what is believed to be the first such visit since the reign of Queen Victoria.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II is met by Prime Minister David Cameron outside 10 Downing Street in central London, prior to attending a Cabinet meeting in what is believed to be the first such visit since the reign of Queen Victoria.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II is met by Prime Minister David Cameron outside 10 Downing Street in central London, prior to attending a Cabinet meeting in what is believed to be the first such visit since the reign of Queen Victoria.

  • Queen attends Cabinet meeting

    Queen Elizabeth II is met by Prime Minister David Cameron outside 10 Downing Street in central London, prior to attending a Cabinet meeting in what is believed to be the first such visit since the reign of Queen Victoria.

  • BRITAIN-ROYALS-POLITICS

    A Downing Street employee sweeps the red carpet beside a police officer ahead of a visit by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II outside No 10 Downing Street in London December 18, 2012. Queen Elizabeth II attended a British Cabinet meeting on December 18, the first such visit in more than a century. Historically, monarchs used to chair Cabinet meetings but the last one to exercise their right to attend was queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth's great-great grandmother, who died in 1901. The 86-year-old sovereign is going to the prime minister's Downing Street residence to receive a diamond jubilee gift from the Cabinet, marking her 60 years on the throne, and will also sit in on their meeting as an observer. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Queen Elizabeth II Attends the Government's Weekly Cabinet Meeting

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) greets Queen Elizabeth II as she arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to attend the Government's weekly Cabinet meeting on December 18, 2012 in London, England. The Queen's visit to the weekly Cabinet meeting as an observer is the first time a monarch has attended the meeting since Queen Victoria's reign. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-ROYALS-POLITICS

    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) greets Queen Elizabeth II (L) outside No 10 Downing Street in London December 18, 2012 as she arrives to attend the meeting of the Cabinet. Queen Elizabeth II attended a British Cabinet meeting on December 18, the first such visit in more than a century. Historically, monarchs used to chair Cabinet meetings but the last one to exercise their right to attend was queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth's great-great grandmother, who died in 1901. The 86-year-old sovereign is going to the prime minister's Downing Street residence to receive a diamond jubilee gift from the Cabinet, marking her 60 years on the throne, and will also sit in on their meeting as an observer. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)