Seven years ago today we all tuned in to watch Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Many were a tad nervous that it wouldn’t quite live up to the incredible display put on by Beijing four years earlier, but it’s safe to say we weren’t disappointed.
One of the highlights from the evening was the Queen’s surprise appearance in a James Bond spoof, which saw 007 heading to Buckingham Palace to collect her for the celebrations.
The Monarch is sitting at her writing desk and greets him with a simple “Hello Mr Bond” before she gets up and they walk through the palace’s corridors together.
They then take a helicopter ride over to the Olympic Park where ‘The Queen’ does a parachute jump onto the ground below.
A few moments later she walks out into the stadium to take her seat with Prince Philip, to the huge cheers of the thousands of spectators.
On a tour of the Olympic Park the following day Her Majesty told the then London Mayor Boris Johnson: “It all seemed to go very well last night. But I didn’t see my bit.”
Boris told her: “You were brilliant Ma’am,” and she responded: “It was a bit of a laugh.”
Buckingham Palace said she was “delighted” to be in the show, which she called “exceptional”.
The Mirror revealed at the time that the Queen performed her part in one take and her own corgis Monty, Willow and Holly were used in the film.
After Slumdog Millionaire director Danny came up with the Bond sequence idea, Locog chairman Lord Coe made a formal approach to Buckingham Palace – and Her Majesty loved the idea.
“It was not a case of having to persuade the Queen to take part,” an official said.
“Her Majesty said ‘yes’ to it straight away. She thought it was such brilliant fun. And when the idea for the format was explained to her she was happy with that, too. When we came to filming it the Queen was a natural. Did it take long? No. Let’s just say we only had to film it once.
“And yes they were the Queen’s corgis. We had others on stand-by if it was required but we never needed to use them.”
A senior royal aide added: “The Queen was very impressed by the opening ceremony. She said it went rather well, which it most certainly did. It is typical of the Queen to be understated but make no mistake she was very impressed. It was breathtaking.”
Danny yesterday praised the Queen’s acting skills and she was “very helpful and very sharp”.
“You don’t have to tell her something twice,” he said. “She picks it up straight away, about cameras and angles.
“And she was very gracious in giving us access really, and that’s what we wanted, that feeling to be throughout the whole ceremony. She is a good actor, she is good at it. Her and Daniel (Craig) got on very well, her and James Bond got on very well so that was all tickety-boo, and the corgis were fine.”
Her Majesty has never acted before but Prince Charles made a cameo appearance in an episode of Coronation Street and the Duchess of Cornwall has been on The Archers.
In the film – watched by thousands of guests at the stadium and billions of TV viewers around the world – Bond calls on her at Buckingham Palace then they fly by helicopter through London to the Olympic site in Stratford.
As the sequence finished a helicopter hovered above the stadium and two people dressed as the Queen and Bond jumped out and parachuted towards the stadium before landing outside.
The parachute jump was performed by stuntman and base jumper Gary Connery and Mark Sutton, a former officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
Gary, who played the Queen, said of the experience: “It will hang in my memory until I become senile and can’t remember it any more.
“What an occasion, what a thing to be involved in, absolutely stunning.”
The Queen, who chose her outfit for the filming, was played by Miss Marple actress Julia McKenzie for the scene where she boards the helicopter.
During TV coverage of the opening ceremony she was seen looking pensive before her brief speech to signify the start of the Games.
But royal insiders said she had repeatedly laughed during the ceremony, particularly during Rowan Atkinson’s hilarious keyboard-playing sketch.
“The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and the younger royals loved the Mr Bean sketch and so did the Queen,” the source said. “The entire family was thrilled by the Bond film.”
A spokeswoman said the Queen was approached last year asking if she would take part.