When Queen Elizabeth appeared to parachute into the Olympic Stadium this summer it was hailed as one of the greatest moments in British television history.
As part of the lavish London 2012 opening ceremony the Queen was shown jumping from a helicopter with James Bond actor Daniel Craig, but ever since there has been mystery surrounding how, exactly, she was persuaded to do it – until now.
Lifting the lid on her first movie role, Lord Sebastian Coe has revealed the audacious stunt had been kept a secret from the Queen’s own dumbstruck family who watched it unfold on July 27 this year.
Prince Charles “roared with laughter” and Princes Harry and William began yelling “Go Granny!” as she was shown flying across the London sky before appearing in the Royal box, he said.
In his autobiography, Running My Life and serialized in The Times, Lord Coe discusses how director Danny Boyle, LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton and even Prime Minister David Cameron had helped make it happen and admitted he was “speechless and nervous” about it.
“When we saw those shoes and peach colored dress disappearing into the night sky under a billowing parachute, we [he and Paul Deighton] looked at each other, both thinking <<Oh my God! What have we sanctioned here!>>,” he wrote.
During the ceremony Prince William and Prince Harry were sat behind Lord Coe, who was sat next to Prince Charles.
“Prince Charles looked at me and began laughing rather nervously, wondering where on earth this was going. And when the film cut to the shot of the Royal back, he had exactly the same reaction as everyone else, which was to assume that it was the lady who does the impersonations. But the moment she turned around and everyone realized <<My God! It really is the Queen!>> he began roaring with laughter. As for his sons, they were beside themselves.
“As she started her descent, two voices behind me [William and Harry] shouted in unison <<Go Granny!>>.”
When Queen Elizabeth appeared to parachute into the Olympic Stadium this summer it was hailed as one of the greatest moments in British television history
Danny Boyle had the original idea and Lord Coe knew the Queen’s deputy private secretary Edward Young. David Cameron was then informed, who also thought it was a great idea, so brought it up with the Queen during their weekly audience at the Palace.
“I’ll never forget when Danny showed Paul [Deighton] and me the finished film. Even though we had been involved at every stage from storyboard to final script. the wit, fun and sheer audacity left us speechless.”
The recorded sequence opened at Buckingham Palace, where a tuxedo-wearing Daniel 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, the Queen 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”.
Organizers 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.
Three members of the Jordanian Paralympian squad facing sex charges have been pulled out of this year’s Paralympic Games.
Faisal Hammash, Omar Sami Qaradhi and Motaz Al-Junadi are charged with sex offences in Antrim.
LOCOG said they had been told by the Jordanian National Paralympic Committee that they would not be entering the athletes into the games.
They said the athletes had returned to Jordan.
On Wednesday, a court in Coleraine, County Londonderry, heard that The King of Jordan has taken a personal interest in the case.
A Jordanian embassy official offered bail sureties at the hearing.
Bail of £500 ($793) was granted with a surety of £5,000 ($7,937) from the Jordanian government for each defendant.
Faisal Hammash, Omar Sami Qaradhi and Motaz Al-Junadi are charged with sex offences in Antrim
The case had been adjourned while the judge considered the bail applications.
The squad is one of several international teams using the Antrim Forum sports complex as a training base in advance of the Games which begin in London next week.
The three men, two of whom compete in wheelchairs, are all members of the Jordanian Paralympics power-lifting team.
Faisal Hammash, 35, faces two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
Omar Sami Qaradhi, 31, is charged with three counts of sexual assault and one of voyeurism. At least two of the assaults were against children.
Motaz Al-Junadi, 45, faces one charge of sexual assault. All the offences took place between 16 and 20 August.
King Abdullah’s interest in the case was reported by one of his government officials who promised to return the accused men to Coleraine Court following the games if bail was granted.
The Jordanian Embassy in London released a statement saying it regretted the incidents that had led to the charges of the three members of the paralympic team.
“In line with its duties towards its citizens, the embassy provided direct consular support to the three members of the team charged with the offences,” it said.
“A senior diplomat from the embassy attended the hearings this morning at the Magistrates Court in Antrim, and posted bail for the three sportsmen pending their reappearance in Belfast for their trial in October.
“The embassy wishes to further express its appreciation to the courts for promptly appointing a defence lawyer for the three men and facilitating its Consular services to its citizens.
“The embassy in London wishes to reassure the courts of its continued cooperation and maintains utmost respect for the due process of the law.”
The Olympic torch has been welcomed to Buckingham Palace by members of the royal family, including Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Large crowds gathered across London to see the flame on the penultimate day of its journey around the British Isles.
The torch relay also passed through Downing Street, where it was greeted by Prime Minister David Cameron.
David Cameron earlier said the London Games would show the world “beyond doubt that Britain can deliver”.
The flame ended the day in Hyde Park where the final torchbearer lit a cauldron in front of 60,000 people who have gathered for a celebratory concert.
London Mayor Boris Johnson wished the crowds a “wonderful” Olympics, and thanked them for their support.
“Are we ready? Yes we are,” Boris Johnson said, in a rallying cry to the audience.
The Olympic torch has been welcomed to Buckingham Palace by members of the royal family, including Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge
Meanwhile, Great Britain’s men’s football team is taking on Senegal at Manchester’s Old Trafford ground.
On Friday, the Olympics will be officially opened by the Queen and the torch’s journey will come to an end during the opening ceremony.
A unanimous decision has been made over who will light the Olympic Stadium’s cauldron, LOCOG said, but it will be kept secret until the ceremony.
Earlier, David Cameron told reporters during a news conference at the Olympic Park: “This is a great moment for us. Let’s seize it.”
And he said security was his main concern ahead of the Games – an area he said he takes “personal responsibility for”.
David Cameron described a blunder in which North Korean footballers’ images were shown next to the South Korean flag as an “honest mistake”.
The prime minister called the eve of the Games “a truly momentous day for our country”.
“Seven years of waiting, planning, building, dreaming, are almost over – tomorrow, the curtain comes up, the spectators arrive, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 can officially begin.”
David Cameron also met the Republican candidate for the US presidency, Mitt Romney, during his campaigning and fundraising visit to London.
Mitt Romney had earlier expressed concerns about “disconcerting” signs of a lack of readiness for the Games.
“The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging,” Mitt Romney told a US television station.
It is “hard to know just how well it will turn out”, said Mitt Romney, who managed the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002.
David Cameron responded by saying: “Of course, this is a time of some economic difficulty for the UK. Everybody knows that.
“But look at what we’re capable of achieving as a nation, even at a difficult economic time.”
Mitt Romney, who also met Labour leader Ed Miliband, later said outside Number 10: “I expect the Games to be highly successful.”
In other developments:
• Long queues outside St James’s Park in Newcastle meant some football fans missed the start of Mexico v South Korea
• The PM met David Beckham at Downing Street to discuss how to tackle world hunger. It came ahead of a “hunger summit” on the final day of the Games, Sunday 12 August
• A planned strike by East Midlands Trains (EMT) during the Games was called off after a pensions dispute was settled
• LOCOG apologized after an official football programme listed Welsh footballer Joe Allen as English. It said the error would be corrected for Team GB’s next match
• A global investment conference in London kicked off a series of business summits intended to showcase the UK and attract investment during the Games
• A new record for arrivals at Heathrow is expected to be set on Thursday, with up to 125,000 incoming passengers