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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 15:46 GMT
Queen salutes women high-flyers
Charlotte Church
Charlotte Church was the youngest person invited to the palace lunch
Britain's first female train driver, stars and business high-flyers are among women hailed by the first royal "girl power" celebration.

The Queen paid tribute at a Buckingham Palace lunch, joined by the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Gloucester.

Guests included author JK Rowling, singer Charlotte Church and pioneering train driver Hannah Dadds.

Another, Cherie Booth QC, described the day as fantastic.

She added that she was "thrilled" the palace had highlighted her work in employment and discrimination law, calling her by her working name and not merely describing her as the Prime Minister's wife.

Singer Charlotte Church, at 18 the youngest person invited, said: "I feel privileged to be here. I don't think I'm worthy when all I do is sing."

Kanya King
Mobo awards organiser Kanya King
Welfare campaigner Lady Heather Mills McCartney
Opera singer Lesley Garrett
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood

She said the person she wanted to meet most was JK Rowling but she had been "too nervous to approach her".

She was later spotted deep in conversation with the Harry Potter author.

The Queen had also been "appreciative of Harry", Ms Rowling later said.

Supermodel Kate Moss, in a royal blue dress matching the Queen's outfit, chatted and laughed with welfare campaigner Jemima Khan, while former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher mingled with Olivia Giles who raises awareness about meningitis after suffering from the disease.

The reception follows a series of royal visits across the capital this morning.

The Queen and her daughter visited a building site in east London to meet women carpenters, plumbers and decorators.

JK Rowling
The Queen was "appreciative of Harry", JK Rowling said

The trainees are working on flats at Maryland Point, Stratford, as part of the Women's Education in Building scheme.

Earlier, the Princess Royal visited the Muslim Women's Welfare Association in Leyton, also east London.

Meanwhile the Duchess of Gloucester was visiting the Belgrade Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, the Breast Screening Unit at King's College Hospital and the Eaves Housing for Women facility in south-west London.

The senior royal women received 180 guests at the palace, representing the cream of Britain's high achievers.

Others at the reception included actress Emma Thompson, domestic violence refuge founder Erin Pizzey, lawyer Cherie Blair, comedy actress Jennifer Saunders, and writer Zadie Smith.

The BBC's June Kelly
"It was certainly a mixed guest list"

In pictures: International Women's Day
08 Mar 04  |  In Pictures


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