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24 May 2012

The Queen has met hundreds of leading cultural figures at one of the most glittering gatherings of actors, writers and artists the UK has seen.

Sir Derek Jacobi, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Paul McCartney and David Hockney were among the 850 luminaries invited to the reception to mark the Diamond Jubilee.

Bono and Alan Bennett also attended the event at London's Royal Academy, along with rapper Tinie Tempah.

The Queen had her photograph taken with 20 artistic dames.

They included soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, artist Dame Paula Rego and, from the acting world, Dames Joan Plowright, Janet Suzman, Diana Rigg and Harriet Walter.

Apple designer Sir Jonathan Ive was also invited, just hours after receiving his knighthood.

Among the other well-known names to attend were:

    Fashion luminaries Dame Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Jasper Conran and Zandra Rhodes, who brought a model dressed in their creations
    Actors Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Maureen Lipman, Joanna Lumley, Tom Courtenay, Richard Briers and Martin Clunes
    Playwrights Sir Tom Stoppard, Mike Leigh and Sir Ronald Harwood and theatre directors Sir Trevor Nunn, Sir Peter Hall, and Sir Nicholas Hytner
    Representatives of the arts world Grayson Perry, David Bailey and Sam Taylor-Wood
    Novelists Julian Barnes, Michael Morpurgo and Philip Pullman
    Chefs Richard Corrigan, Atul Kochhar and Yotam Ottolenghi, who will offer tastes of their dishes

Irish musician Bono and former Beatle Sir Paul were among those to pay tribute to the Queen.

There were cheers when Bono praised the Queen for making her trip to the Republic of Ireland last year.

He joked: "And the Queen spoke Gaelic, I can't even speak Gaelic."

In another room, the Monarch met Dame Shirley Bassey and actress Joan Collins.

"I'm such a great admirer of her," said Ms Collins. "I always want to know what she keeps in the handbag."

The event also saw the Queen present five special Diamond Jubilee Awards to young "artists of the future".

The citations were delivered by Mr Hockney, Sir Jonathan, Sir Derek, Dame Kiri and choreographer Matthew Bourne.
'A good 60 years'

Pop artist Sir Peter Blake, who designed the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album cover, said it had been "an exciting 60 years" for British culture.

Speaking on the red carpet, Dame Diana Rigg said the occasion was "absolutely wonderful".

Asked whether there had been a golden age for British culture, she said: "I think Britain continually improves itself and redefines itself.

"This year happens to be particularly special, with the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics at the same time. I think an entirely new, brilliant Britain is going to emerge."

Actress Maureen Lipman explained what the occasion meant to the British arts, saying: "There'll be a bit of lobbying, there'll be a lot of networking, there'll be a lot of chat and we all love the Queen. And we hope it benefits the arts."

Dame Vivienne Westwood, who rose to fame in the punk era, said she had changed her view about the monarchy since the 1970s.

"At one time I thought the Queen represented all the political hypocrisy of England," she said. "I realised they're above politics. I think they are a social cement and the job she does is incredible."

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