LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II toured London’s Olympic heartland Saturday hours after she surprised a worldwide audience by starring as the newest Bond Girl.
The queen got a bird’s eye view of the Olympic Park complex atop the 377-foot (115-meter) Orbit sculpture beside the stadium, where on Friday night she officially opened the 2012 Games. Her husband, Prince Philip, and London Mayor Boris Johnson accompanied her as she rode up two floors in the sculpture’s elevator to meet designer Anish Kapoor.
Dressed in a royal blue silk dress, crepe coat and matching hat, the queen could be heard remarking at the views of the London skyline and countryside up to 20 miles (32 kilometers) away. She was also wearing a brooch given to her in 1948, the last time London hosted the Olympics and four years before her accession to the throne.
Johnson said the queen had told him she was “very, very impressed with the success of her first film appearance, her first dramatic venture. It was very funny and seems to have gone down particularly well with the international audiences.”
Buckingham Palace confirmed that the 86-year-old monarch agreed last year to participate in Danny Boyle’s film portion of his four-hour opening ceremony extravaganza. Filming took place at the palace in March and April and featured two of the queen’s corgi dogs: Monty and Holly.
Boyle’s production involved Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, striding into Buckingham Palace to escort his VIP guest to the Olympic ceremony. Many watching had expected a famous actress to play the role of the queen, and untold thousands in the audience audibly gasped as the real-life queen was seen to swivel round in her desk chair and declare: “Good evening, Mr. Bond.”
At the end of the film segment, two stuntmen dressed as Bond and the queen parachuted from a helicopter into the stadium, and moments later Elizabeth and Philip emerged in the stands.
Boyle told NBC television that the queen had been a natural. “You don’t have to tell her something twice,” he said. “She picks it up straight away, about cameras and angles.”
The scenes were filmed in March and April, after the queen agreed to take part last year.
The queen offered more surprises Saturday as she paid a walking visit to the athletes village and met about 150 members of the British Olympic team. Spectators took in the scene from balconies draped in Union Jack flags.
“For her to come through and meet the athletes, and see where we’re living, it was amazing,” said Rose Anderson, 24, a member of the women’s basketball team.
“She went inside one of the athletes’ bedrooms and chatted to us. It was just awesome, especially after last night,” she said, referring to the opening ceremony. “Last night will never be topped. I’ll never get an experience like that again, and then this will never be topped either.”
The queen also met athletes from other nations in the dining hall.
“She’s beautiful,” said Jess Fox, who competes for Australia in the canoe slalom. “We saw her from afar last night in the stadium, but it was amazing to see her like this.”