It was the night when the Queen appeared in her first movie acting role – and proved herself an instant comedy hit.
Her Majesty was seen in a film alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig before apparently ‘parachuting’ into the stadium for the opening ceremony.
The recorded sequence opened at Buckingham Palace, where a tuxedo-wearing Craig as 007 was presented to the Queen by her personal footman as she was writing a letter and training her corgis Monty, Willow and Holly to roll over. Greeting him with an ‘Evening, Mr Bond’, the Queen, in a rose-pink dress, was seen striding briskly through the palace with the action hero before climbing into a helicopter emblazoned with the Union Flag.
The two were depicted as soaring over the streets of London and through Tower Bridge until they finally reached the Olympic Park. As the film reached its climax, spectators inside the east London stadium heard an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter, which finally appeared hovering above.
As the aircraft steadied in the movie sequence, Bond was seen opening the door and appearing to hesitate. While he dithered, the figure of the Queen pushed past him and dived out into the air followed by 007 – Union Jack parachutes streaming behind them. Meanwhile, from the real helicopter above the stadium, the same two figures appeared to plunge to earth. And, with the familiar Bond theme tune sounding around the stadium, the spotlight shone on the Royal Box to reveal the Queen in exactly the same dress she wore in the film.
Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she entered to rapturous applause with Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee.
The Union Flag was then carried into the stadium and raised by representatives of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF.
Director Danny Boyle said: ‘The Queen made herself more accessible than ever before.’
Nic Brown, BBC Director of UK Drama Production who produced the sequence, filmed in March, said it had required ‘a huge amount of planning and resources’.
He said he hoped the result was a film ‘full of warmth, joy, affection, wit, surprise and excitement and sunshine’.
Organisers said that having to secure permission to fly along the Thames through Tower Bridge – which had never been done before – was a challenge in itself.
The two parachutists who actually leapt from the helicopter last night were Gary Connery, a professional base jumper, and Mark Suttan, a former officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles.