The Foreign Office has revealed its gift to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee, with an area in Antarctica being named after Her Majesty. The region of Antarctica, which was previously unnamed, is to be known as Queen Elizabeth Land.
The area is around 169,000 square miles, about twice the size of the UK, and makes up just under a third of the entire land mass of British Antarctic Territory. British maps will now feature the new name but because of Antarctica’s unique protection by an international treaty, it will be down to other countries to decide whether they will officially recognise the name or not. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 suspends territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the gift had been given, “as a mark of this country's gratitude to The Queen for Her service,” and that it was naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory, “in her honour, as 'Queen Elizabeth Land'."
This is not the first area of Antarctica to be named after the Queen. In East Antarctica there is already a Princess Elizabeth Land, which was named before the Queen took the throne. An unnamed mountain range in the Antarctic Peninsula was also named the Princess Royal Range in 2006, in tribute to the Queen’s Daughter.
The gift was announced after the Queen attended a cabinet meeting yesterday, making her the first monarch to do so since 1781. She also received a set of 60 place mats from minsters, marking her 60 years of service and her Diamond Jubilee.