Royal salute to Little Mermaid: Queen and Duchess celebrate Britain's Olympic and Paralympic stars at Buckingham Palace
Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and double gold-winning runner Mo Farah were among the guests
00:50 GMT, 24 October 2012
Her eyes shining with pride, Britain’s Paralympic swimming heroine Ellie Simmonds met the Queen last night to be congratulated on her sensational summer.
The 17-year-old, who took double gold in London to equal her previous success in Beijing, was attending a glittering reception at Buckingham Palace.
It was held because the Queen wanted to say a personal thank-you to Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic successes of 2012.
Delight: Ellie Simmonds, wearing her two gold medals, is congratulated by the Queen
Also among the royal party was the Duchess of Cambridge, in an Alice Temperley dress with sheer black neckline and hem, featuring white embroidered flowers.
The successful athletes were clearly thrilled to be there. Ellie tweeted: ‘1st Stop – Buckingham Palace! #superexcited’.
Double bronze swimming medallist Rebecca Adlington wrote: ‘Had an amazing time tonight at Buckingham Palace with all the medallists from the Olympics + Paralympics! So nice to see everyone again!’
Effortlessly beautiful: The Duchess of Cambridge
looked elegant in a black gown by Alice Temperley teamed with a small black clutch and heels at a reception for
Great Britain's sporting stars at Buckingham Palace
Celebratory reception: The Duchess of Cambridge pictured talking to Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin, and Scott Brash during a reception for Team GB Medallists at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
The athletes arrived in their official Team GB formal wear of suits, which included a special inside pocket for their medals.
Team GB began the summer’s medal rush by winning 65 in total, including 29 golds, an achievement that was hailed as the athletes’ 'greatest ever' performance by Andy Hunt, their chef de mission for London 2012.
The sportsmen and women easily surpassed their Beijing 2008 medal haul of 47.
Warm welcome: The Duchess of Cambridge greeted the medal winners to congratulate them on their success
Charming company: The Duchess of Cambridge pictured centre talking to the women's Hockey team during a reception for Team GB Medallists at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Among the sports stars who delighted the home crowds and the world with podium topping performances were heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, sailor Ben Ainslie and double gold-winning runner Mo Farah.
The Paralympics saw Great Britain achieve unprecedented success with 120 medals, including 34 golds.
Memorable performances included wheelchair athlete David Weir winning four golds, swimmer Ellie Simmonds powering home to two victories in the pool while sprinter Jonnie Peacock lit up the stadium with his blistering win in the T44 100 metres.
Captivating: The Duchess of Cambridge and Gymnast Beth Tweddle discuss the difficulties of her sport
Sarah Storey cemented her place in the history books by winning four golds on her bike, taking her to 11 titles overall in a Paralympic career as both a swimmer and cyclist.
Para-equestrian rider Lee Pearson, who won his tenth Paralympic gold medal at the Games with a silver and bronze, was among the first guests to arrive.
He said: 'I was driving down here and reminding myself that it had been a home Games and that made it a bit more special.
'Coming here to Buckingham Palace to celebrate a home Games is also special because so many of the Royal Family came out to watch us.'
Greeting the champions: The Duchess of Cambridge meets Heather Stanning, centre, and Helen Glover
Going for gold: The Duchess of Cambridge inspects Lee Pearson's gold medal for the team dressage
The Queen and Philip first welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – formerly Culture Secretary – and other senior figures who made the Games possible, including Lord Coe, former chair of London 2012, in the Palace’s 18th Century Room.
They were soon joined by Kate who chatted to all the guests and shared a laugh with the Prime Minister.
Mr Cameron said before joining the main reception: 'It was an amazing summer and I think people will cherish those memories, you know, almost more then the 1966 World Cup.
'I think people will look back and just think, ‘what an incredible summer’ – success after success, medal after medal and the whole country putting on its very best face for the world.
A funny evening: The women's Hockey team laugh at a joke with the Duchess of Cambridge at a reception held in their honour
One on one: The Duchess of Cambridge shares a one on one chat with Paralympic Swimmer Stephanie Millward
'What matters now is that we maximise the momentum and the legacy following the Olympics and Paralympics.
had a cabinet meeting about that today and Seb Coe was there, and we
were talking about the physical legacy of East London, the important
economic benefits we want, there’s the sporting legacy carried through
to Rio and school sport, there’s also the legacy in terms of attitude to
disabilities, which I think is a real chance of a step change in our
Mr Cameron added: 'But tonight it's very, very generous of Her Majesty to open up Buckingham Palace and have everybody in.
'I think it's a lovely finish to an amazing year for British Olympians and Paralympians.'
The Prime Minister was asked about the Queen's appearance at the Games' opening ceremony with Daniel Craig, whose latest performance as James Bond can be seen in the new 007 movie Skyfall premiered tonight in London.
Royal reception: Queen Elizabeth II meets wheelchair racer David Weir who has won a total of six medals at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics
Fighting spirit: The Queen talks to Boxer Luke Campbell who won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in the bantamweight division
The world was amazed to see the Queen apparently parachuting into the Olympic stadium after meeting the secret agent at Buckingham Palace.
Mr Cameron said: 'To me, Her Majesty the Queen and James Bond are the two coolest things about Britain.'
He added: 'I think it was extremely courageous of Her Majesty to take part and was one of the highlights, not just for Britain, but for the world.'
Among the royals hosting their guests were the Duke of York and his daughter Princess Beatrice, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Zara Phillips, who won a team silver in the Olympic Equestrian competition, joined her fellow competitors and helped introduce them to her grandmother the Queen.
Cycling to success: Princess Anne meets 20-year-old cyclist Laura Trott, centre, and fellow GB athletes at the reception
Fellow guests: Prime Minister David Cameron talks to sport shooter Peter Wilson and swimmer Rebecca Adlington