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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 June 2006, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Queen throws party for children
Guardsmen and Winnie the Pooh
Buckingham Palace has been transformed into a fantasyland
A cast of classic children's characters has appeared at "the ultimate children's party" at Buckingham Palace for 2,000 youngsters.

The palace garden was made into a "fantasy land" including characters from the Famous Five and Harry Potter.

As well as a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, an all-star show about the Queen losing her handbag - broadcast on BBC One - was performed.

The event was the latest to mark the Queen's 80th birthday.

The youngsters, together with 1,000 adults, were selected by ballot to be part of the event.

Julie Gusman, 33, brought her nieces Amy, 7, and Lauren Cudd, 4, from Hadleigh, near Ipswich, to the children's party.

"They're loving it. They are so excited. Once they saw all the children's characters they were off," she said.

"I think the whole thing is fantastic and I'm overwhelmed, never mind about the kids."

Handbag found

The show, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, saw baddies, including Captain Hook and Cruella de Vil, steal the Queen's handbag which contained a speech.

The Famous Five and Harry Potter came to the monarch's rescue.

The show culminated with the Queen appearing on stage to read out the recovered speech.

The kids will recognise characters from every kind of story and the adults will recognise who is playing them
Sir Trevor Nunn

The show, entitled The Queen's Handbag, is an adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG.

Model Sophie Dahl, the author's granddaughter and the inspiration for the book, played herself.

She joined other celebrity performers including Harry Hill, Ronnie Corbett and Martin Clunes.

"I've done pantomime really for about 30 years, so I'm not frightened of being in front of children," Corbett told BBC News.

"They're spirited and they're lovely and with you and they're shouting and they're screaming."

Sir Trevor said it had been a challenge to organise "huge numbers of personalities and famous people" for the event.

"The kids will recognise characters from every kind of story and the adults will recognise who is playing them," he said.

Mr Happy character at Buckingham Palace
Old favourites such as Mr Happy are taking part in the party

The palace fantasy land included Toad of Toad Hall rowing on the lake and Thomas the Tank Engine in his own railway station.

Other characters at the party included Bob the Builder, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit.

Guests enjoyed food hampers made by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who the Queen met before strolling around the garden, accompanied by groups of children trying to take her picture.

Her first stop was at an author's reading tent, where she met several writers including Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

The Queen also stopped at the Thomas the Tank Engine station.

"I told her more than one million people come to see him at historic steam stations every year. She said she was delighted to see him up close," said Bruce Steinberg of Hit Entertainment, which produces the TV show.

Event producer Robbie Williams said: "The whole theme of this is to encourage the promotion of British children's literature but we hope it will also be the ultimate children's party."

Did you go to the party? If you have any pictures or video, you can send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or to send via MMS please dial +44 (0)7725 100 100.

See the Queen address the audience at the party

Queen's 80th party map unveiled
21 Jun 06 |  London

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