What to get the monarch who has everything? Politicians wrestling with that question today gave the queen a set of 60 placemats - and a chunk of the Antarctic twice the size of Great Britain.
The newly named Queen Elizabeth Land is a 169,000 square mile chunk of the British Antarctic Territory which makes up almost a third of Britain’s claim on the polar continent. The 60 placemats given as the queen attended a cabinet meeting today will probably be just as useful.
Veteran politician Eric Pickles later told the BBC that one can 'never have too many table mats' and the Queen now has the chance to put that claim to the test. Lucky her.
Queen Elizabeth Land will be marked on all British maps in future, the Foreign Office said.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, announced the gift as he gave the Queen a guided tour of the Foreign Office, the Telegraph reported.
Hague said: “As a mark of this country’s gratitude to the Queen for her service, we are naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory in her honour as ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’.
“This is a fitting tribute at the end of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year, and I am very proud to be able to announce it as she visits the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of fourteen UK Overseas Territories. To be able to recognise the UK’s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honour.”
All claims on Antarctica are held in abeyance under the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which neither confirms nor denies competing claims but prevents new claims being made, accordign to the Telegraph.
Sixty years and hardly a slip.