LONDON - The Queen has cut a cake to mark her Platinum Jubilee as she met members of the Sandringham community on the eve of the 70th anniversary of her reign.

Ahead of Accession Day, she hosted a reception for volunteer groups, pensioners and fellow members of the local Women’s Institute (WI) group.

Guests included a former cookery student who helped create the original Coronation chicken recipe.

The Queen was described as being on “sparkling” form at the reception.

Today (Sunday), she will have reigned for 70 years, excluding Accession Day. It also marks the day her father George VI died in 1952. The event at Sandringham House was the largest in-person public engagement the Queen had attended since a reception at Windsor Castle in October. There had been concerns for her health last autumn after she spent a night in hospital and was ordered to rest by royal doctors. Vice-president of the Sandringham WI Yvonne Browne said the Queen, who laughed and joked with guests, was on “sparkling” form on Saturday. “Seventy years on the throne shows the Queen has been a moving example to absolutely everyone in all walks of life,” said Ms Browne. “She’s been a constant, compassionate and stoic, everything that makes a perfect human being, and has a great strength of character and has overcome so many things.” The Queen has been a member of the Sandringham branch of the WI since 1943 and its president since 2003. During the reception, the Queen met Angela Wood, who was 19 when she helped create the dish that became known as Coronation chicken - a mix of cold cooked chicken, mayonnaise, curry powder and apricot.

The recipe, originally known as Poulet Reine Elizabeth - chicken Queen Elizabeth was developed to mark the coronation in 1953, a year after her reign began.

Mrs Wood made the Queen laugh when she told her she spent “days and days altering it” for the cooks who created it.

The Queen, 95, commented that the recipe has likely evolved in the intervening years, saying: “It’s probably changed because in those days we did some things quite differently.” Junior sous chef Shaun Mason created a modern take on the dish for Saturday’s reception with a Coronation chicken tartlet, which he offered to the Queen and Mrs Wood. The Queen caused laughter when she said she would “go away” while the former cookery student tried it, adding: “You can tell me, what you think when I come back.” The Queen, wearing a pale blue dress with white brocade and carrying her black handbag, cut an iced Victoria Sponge featuring the Platinum Jubilee logo as its decoration at the reception. When Lady Dannatt, Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, told her the cake had been turned upside down so press photographers could get a good shot, the Queen joked: “I don’t matter?” “I think I might just put a knife in it,” the Queen said, adding it “went in beautifully”, but that she would leave it to someone else to finish cutting the cake, baked by a local resident.

She was also given a posy featuring flowers that formed part of her coronation bouquet, thanking the young girl and saying “aren’t they pretty?”.

The reception saw the Queen meet Sandringham Estate pensioners and their families as well as representatives from local charities Little Discoverers and West Norfolk Befriending.

Little Discoverers is an early education provider for pre-school children with movement difficulties and delayed development while the befriending group matches isolated older people with trained volunteers.

The Queen reminisced with a group of former Sandringham Estate workers about devastating floods in Norfolk in 1953.

“I remember sitting at dinner, the fire alarm went off - no fire, the sea was coming in,” she said. “It’s a very nasty experience.”