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Queen hosts Sandringham reception ahead of Platinum Jubilee

By Max Foster and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II marked the eve of her Platinum Jubilee with a special reception at Sandringham House on Saturday.

On Sunday, the 95-year-old will become the first British monarch to celebrate 70 years on the throne.

A day before reaching the landmark milestone, the Queen welcomed members of the local community and volunteer groups to her private residence in Norfolk, around 100 miles north of London.

The event saw her chat with former cookery student Angela Wood, who helped develop a recipe intrinsically linked to the start of her reign — Coronation Chicken.

The dish of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs was invented to serve to foreign dignitaries at the Coronation banquet.

Other guests invited to the monarch’s home included members of the local Women’s Institute, which she has been President of since 2003, as well as Sandringham Estate pensioners and their families, and representatives from local charities, Little Discoverers and West Norfolk Befriending.

The Queen, wearing an Angela Kelly wedgewood blue crepe with white brocade dress, appeared to be in great spirits during the engagement, according to Britain’s PA Media news agency. She held a wooden walking stick and carried her trademark black handbag as she happily made her way round the guests.

After greeting guests, the Queen cut a cake featuring the Platinum Jubilee emblem, which had been prepared specially for the occasion.

On her departure, the monarch was given a posy featuring flowers that formed part of her Coronation bouquet back in 1953, such as lily of the valley.

It was the largest gathering the sovereign has attended since October when she hosted a reception to mark the Global Investment Summit at Windsor Castle.

Days later, concerns for her health were raised after she abruptly canceled a trip to Northern Ireland and spent a night in hospital for what a spokesman described at the time as “preliminary investigations.”

She has since been continuing to follow her doctor’s guidance, carrying out light duties remotely by video link and phone and a few small in-person engagements.

The Queen traditionally marks Accession Day on February 6 out of the public eye at Sandringham, remembering her father, King George VI, on the anniversary of his death.

A series of celebrations will take place throughout the year, culminating in a blockbuster four-day public holiday in June when the nation can join in the jubilee-themed festivities.

Over the long weekend, beacons will be lit across the United Kingdom, Buckingham Palace will host a music concert, street parties are being encouraged, and a pageant will bring together more than 5,000 personnel, performers, key workers and volunteers from the UK and the Commonwealth.

Sign up for CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what’s happening behind palace walls.

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