In a Celebration of Royalty and Rock, Britain Welcomes the World as 2012 Games Open
Britain opened its Olympics with a royal entrance like no other.
London greeted the world in a celebration of Old England that was stunning, imaginative, whimsical and dramatic — and cheeky, even featuring a stand-in for Queen Elizabeth II parachuting with James Bond into Olympic Stadium.
Moments later, the 86-year-old monarch herself stood solemnly while a children’s choir serenaded her with “God Save the Queen,” and members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force raised the Union Jack.
Much of the opening ceremony was an encyclopedic review of British music history, from a 1918 Broadway standard adopted by the West Ham soccer team to The Who’s “My Generation” to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by still another Queen.
The evening started with fighter jets streaming red, white and blue smoke and roaring over the stadium, packed with a buzzing crowd of 60,000 people, at 8:12 p.m. — or 20:12 in the 24-hour time observed by Britons.
An explosion of fireworks against the London skyline and Paul McCartney leading a singalong were to wrap up the three-hour opening ceremony masterminded by one of Britain’s most successful filmmakers, Oscar winner Danny Boyle.
The director of “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting” had a ball with his favored medium, mixing filmed passages with live action in the stadium to hypnotic effect, with 15,000 volunteers taking part in the $42 million show.
Actor Rowan Atkinson as “Mr. Bean” provided laughs, shown dreaming that he was appearing in “Chariots of Fire.” There was a high-speed flyover of the Thames, the river that winds like a vein through London and was the gateway for the city’s rise over the centuries as a great global hub of trade and industry.