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Queen and Prince Harry party with Rugby World Cup stars at Buckingham Palace

The Queen and Prince Harry have welcomed representatives from each of the 20 competing teams at the Rugby World Cup to a reception at Buckingham Palace.

In a speech welcoming around 400 players, coaches, referees and volunteers to the Palace, Harry said it was a privilege to see the tournament being enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

In his role as honorary president of England 2015 he said: "It has been one of the most competitive and entertaining World Cups ever.

"Although only half way through, we have witnessed some truly memorable moments, and one or two upsets!" he added, most likely referring to England's defeat against Wales which he attended with his brother.

Standing on a red carpet fringed with gold, upon which the Webb Ellis Trophy had pride of place, Harry said he was hopeful for the future of rugby.

"England may no longer be represented on the pitch, but as a nation we are incredibly proud to be hosting such a successful tournament.

"A showcase for rugby, which - I truly believe - will help grow the game through its excitement and increasing fan base."

The Queen was presented with a specially commissioned participation medal by Bernard Lapasset, chairman of world rugby, and William "Bill" Beaumont, former England captain.

Wearing a purple flower-patterned dress and a pearl necklace, she remarked that the medal looked very smart before greeting team members and volunteers from all over the world.

Kathryn Catto, a World Cup volunteer from Gloucester, chatted with the Queen as she mingled around the chandelier-decked ballroom.

She said that the monarch was concerned about whether the 17 players - who had stood on the stage behind Harry as he gave his speech - would now be allowed to come down and enjoy the party.

Ms Catto said: "She said 'I hope they will be able to come down soon' - she thought they might be a bit bored and asked a man to see if they could come down off the stage so they wouldn't miss out."

"She said it was lovely that people from all around the country were being represented here tonight."

Ms Catto, who was joined by fellow volunteers and friends Rhian Edwards and Patricia Bailey, joked that they had shared a giggle with the Queen after she revealed she was a great fan of the kilts sported on stage by Scotland's Finn Russell and Jonny Gray.

In response to her admiration Mr Russell said: "It is our traditional wear so it is great to hear that and it's good for Scotland."

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