Part of Antarctica has been named after the Queen as a Diamond Jubilee gift from the Foreign Office.
Queen Elizabeth Land is a 169,000 square mile chunk of the British Antarctic Territory. It is twice the size of the UK and makes up almost a third of Britain’s claim on the polar continent.
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.
Miniisters also gave the Queen a gift of 60 placemats during her visit to Cabinet for the first time today.
He 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.”
The Queen has been on the throne for the entire time that Britain’s claim on the Antarctic, which was made in 1908, has been known as British Antarctic Territory.
A young gentoo penguin stands outside the post-office at Port Lockroy on Wiencke Island in the British Antarctic Territory (Alamy)
It was officially designated as a separate Overseas Territory in 1962.
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.
Decisions on names are made by the Commissioner of the British Antarctic Territory, who is based in London, and who takes advice on place names from the Antarctic Place Names Committee, which meets twice a year.
Britain’s presence in the Antarctic is maintained by three research stations operated by the British Antarctic Survey.
Queen Elizabeth Land is a roughly triangular slice of the inland Antarctic, bordered to the north by the Ronne and Filchner ice shelves.
It is the second time a part of the Antarctic has been named after the Queen; in 1931 the Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson discovered part of East Antarctica which he named Princess Elizabeth Land.
The Princess Royal also has a mountain range in the polar continent named after her.
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