Queen Elizabeth II, James Bond, David Beckham and Mr. Bean starred in the Olympic opening ceremony then stepped aside to let seven young athletes light the cauldron as London’s seven-year wait for the Games ended on Friday in a blaze of fireworks.
Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins rang a 23-ton bell to start the $42 million extravaganza and the Queen played herself in a short film that showed 007 driving up to Buckingham Palace in a black London cab pursued by her majesty’s royal corgis Monty, Willow and Holly.
“Good evening, Mr. Bond,” the monarch said before getting into a helicopter and flying low over London and a waving statue of Winston Churchill to the stadium where she and Bond appeared to leap out into the inky night.
At the same time, real skydivers appeared over the stadium throbbing to the James Bond soundtrack. And moments after that, the monarch appeared in person, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip.
Director Danny Boyle saved his biggest surprise for last, when he handed seven teenage athletes the supreme honour of igniting the Olympic cauldron, and not a legendary star like four-minute miler Roger Bannister. Together, they touched flaming torches to trumpet-like tubes that spread into a ring of fire.
The flames rose skyward and joined elegantly together to form the cauldron. Fireworks erupted over the stadium to music from Pink Floyd before Beatle Paul McCartney closed the show with a sing along of “Hey Jude.”
The ringing of the giant bell ushered in a quirky three-hour journey through British culture and history. Thousands of athletes paraded before 60,000 spectators, including the Queen and an A-list of global celebrities.