Queen Elizabeth II has received an honorary BAFTA award for her lifelong support of the British film and television industry.
Sir Kenneth Branagh presented the Queen with the award in a star-studded gala at Windsor Castle.
BAFTA chairman John Willis described Queen Elizabeth as “the most memorable Bond girl yet” – a reference to her cameo in the London Olympics opening ceremony.
Hollywood director George Lucas, who flew in especially for the event, said the UK had been influential for him.
John Willis said: “We should be proud of our industry. The people here this evening represent a vast variety of skills and ground breaking innovation, they have entertained and informed a generation and inspired generations to come.
“I am delighted that this evening has given us the opportunity to give something back. I have the great honor to announce that we are to present Her Majesty with an honorary BAFTA today, in recognition of her outstanding patronage of the film and television industries.”
Queen Elizabeth II has received an honorary BAFTA award for her lifelong support of the British film and television industry
The Queen, who attended with Prince Philip, featured with Daniel Craig as James Bond at London 2012 – when she appeared to parachute from a helicopter.
To laughter from the audience, actor Kenneth Branagh said: “Your sensational appearance at the opening ceremony of last year’s Olympics was especially memorable.
“So much so that several of my colleagues here tonight want you to know that should you wish to take it further into the world of British films that they have a number of scripts with them here this evening. I have to warn you, Your Majesty, not all of these films are fully financed.”
The 300 guests represented all areas of the industry including actors, directors, writers, producers, costume and set designers, publicists and critics.
Homeland star Damian Lewis, who attended the event with his actress wife Helen McCrory, said: “The arts and film industry punch above their weight with little funding.
“Our arts in this country and theatre and film and TV are some of our greatest exports, to have that recognized by your monarch is important.”
Comedian Billy Connolly attended the reception as did director Terry Gilliam, actress Minnie Driver and actor Idris Elba.
Actor John Hurt also commented on the Queen’s appearance at the Olympics.
“It was a bit of good fun, I thought so – good on her,” he said.
John Hurt revealed he had come to the event from filming Doctor Who, for its 50th anniversary, in Cardiff.
George Lucas said: “I’ve been here since ’75 so for me this is my second home.
“It’s been very influential for me, I’ve shot lots of movies here not only four of the Star Wars films but also Indiana Jones, all kinds of films – it’s been a long road.”
He added: “Many, many years ago Britain didn’t support the film industry and when I came here it was on its last legs and fortunately now it’s a lot steadier.”
London Olympics opening ceremony is just hours away after seven years of preparations.
The three-hour spectacle in the Olympic Stadium will be viewed by a global TV audience of around one billion people.
The day of celebration began at 08:12 BST with a mass bell ringing. Big Ben rang for three minutes for the first time since King George VI’s funeral.
Lord’s cricket ground has turned away spectators trying to get in to watch archery amid confusion over ticketing.
The London 2012 website advertised the event’s preliminary rounds as “unticketed”, which some members of the public interpreted as open to the public.
But Olympic organizer LOCOG said it had not advertised or sold tickets for the ranking event and had always made it clear preliminary rounds were not open to spectators.
London Olympics opening ceremony is just hours away after seven years of preparations
South Korea later claimed the first two world records of London 2012 in the men’s team and individual archery.
Meanwhile, the Olympic flame has arrived at City Hall on the Queen’s rowbarge Gloriana after first weaving through the maze at Hampton Court Palace and being carried down the Thames on the final day of the torch relay.
Around 50 boats took part in the flotilla, each reflecting London’s waterborne heritage.
The flame’s 70-day nationwide journey ends with the lighting of the cauldron during this evening’s opening ceremony but the identity of the person who will take on the honor remains a mystery.
Five-times rowing gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave and two-times decathlon champion Daley Thompson will take part in the closing stages, although neither is expected to light the flame.
The ceremony is expected to remain dry, but weather forecasters say the jet stream is moving southwards and there will be a return to more unsettled and chillier conditions over the next few days.
There have not been any reports of major transport issues. Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies said most services were running to schedule. Some roads in London were congested around the route of the Olympic torch relay, and in St. John’s Wood where the archery competition began at Lord’s cricket ground.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s a great opportunity to show the world the best of Britain, a country that’s got an incredibly rich past but also a very exciting future.
“Someone asked me yesterday what face of Britain do we want to put forward – is it Blur or the Beefeaters? – and frankly it’s both.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “What’s so amazing is just the wave of excitement seems to pass from person to person like some benign form of contagion. Everybody is getting it.”
Danny Boyle, the artistic director of the £27 million ($43 million) opening ceremony, dedicated it to the 15,000 volunteers taking part.
“This is a live performance and it’s the actors, and in our case they’re volunteers, who have to get up there and do it.”
Europe’s largest bell will ring inside the Olympic Stadium at 21:00 BST at the start of the extravaganza, said to be a quirky take on British life.
Some 15,000 sq m of staging and 12,956 props will be used, and the event will boast a million-watt PA system using more than 500 speakers.
The crowd of about 80,000 will include the Queen and a host of dignitaries and celebrities.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will host a Buckingham Palace reception for heads of state and government and an opening ceremony celebration concert featuring Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Duran Duran and Paolo Nutini will be held in Hyde Park.
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations will take part in the London Olympics, which has taken £9 billion ($14 billion) of public money to stage.
In other developments:
• Ticketing delays at St James’ Park in Newcastle, which meant some fans missed a men’s football match on Thursday, were unacceptable, a senior 2012 official has said
• Three people due to work as staff at an Olympic venue in Newcastle were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of immigration offences following accreditation checks
• Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt narrowly avoided hitting a group of women with a handbell after it flew off the handle on HMS Belfast during the co-ordinated ringing – he called the moment a “classic”
• American First Lady Michelle Obama, who is in London to lead the US delegation, told the US Olympic team at their Docklands training camp “have fun, breathe a bit, but also win”
• International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge praised the regeneration which has taken place in east London and said the Games would have a “tangible legacy” with, uniquely, “no white elephants”
• London taxis staged a protest at Hyde Park Corner over Olympic traffic lanes. The protest was moved forward by three hours after police said they could not demonstrate on the Olympic Route Network from 16:00 to 03:00 BST.
The White House has announced today that First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the official U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for first ladies to lead the U.S. delegation.
Laura Bush performed the duty at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, and Hillary Rodham Clinton headed up the delegation at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the official U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London
The announcement comes during a three-day visit to the U.S. by Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron, in which he and President Barack Obama intend to focus on foreign policy issues.
Michelle Obama will host a mini-Olympic competition with physical activities for D.C.-area children at American University today.
The competition is part of her “Let’s Move!” initiative promoting fitness and healthy eating.
Michelle Obama will be joined by Samantha Cameron.
Olympians and Paralympians expected to attend the event include: Kortney Clemons, Dominique Dawes, April Holmes, Lisa Leslie, Lori Ann Lindsey, Dan O’Brien, Becky Sauerbrunn and David Wagner.
The Olympics opening ceremony will take place in London on July 27.