London 2012 heroes honoured at Palace

The Duchess of Cambridge talks to Gymnast Beth Tweddle Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Great Britain's Olympic and Paralympic heroes were celebrated tonight at a glittering Buckingham Palace reception hosted by the Queen.

Star sportsmen and women who won gold for the nation during the summer's extravaganza of sport were invited to the palace to mark their achievements.

The athletes arrived in their official Team GB formal wear of suits, which included a special inside pocket for their medals.

The Queen, joined by the Duke of Edinburgh and Duchess of Cambridge, had watched the Olympic opening ceremony - and famously took part.

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.

Princess Royal meets cyclist Laura Trott Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cambridge enjoys talking to the women's Hockey team Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Amongst the sports stars who delighted the home crowds and the world with podium topping performances were heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and sailor Ben Ainslie and double gold-winning runner Mo Farah.

The Queen meets Lee Pearson Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

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.

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.

Queen Elizabeth II meets Hannah Cockcroft Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire