One of the major highlights of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony was a short James Bond film starring Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth II.
The entertaining film, entitled ‘Happy and Glorious’, was part of director Danny Boyle’s highly imaginative opening night extravanganza for the London Olympics and saw Daniel Craig, in character as 007, and dressed in evening suit, arriving at Buckingham Palace for an audience with Her Majesty.
The sequence was seen by an estimated 27 million viewers in Britain, and by billions of other viewers around the world. As with much of the media in Britain, the JBIFC agreed to observe a news embargo about the details of the fantastic sequence before it was shown on the evening of Friday July 27. Although some details were unfortunately leaked onto the internet beforehand, it still proved to be a great surprise for many fans when it was finally screened.
The film showed James Bond arriving at the Palace, walking into the inner sanctum and along the ornate corridors, with the Queen’s corgi dogs following alongside. 007 was then shown into the Queen’s private office by her favourite Serjeant-at-Arms, Paul Whybrew. The Queen was quietly sitting at her writing desk and, after Bond cleared his throat to attract her attention, she greeted him with the words ‘Good evening, Mr. Bond’.
The three then walked through the Palace with the corgis at their feet, and Bond and the Queen were taken away by a waiting helicopter, adorned (naturally) with Union Jack colours. The helicopter flew across the centre of London to the Olympic Stadium, allowing Bond to observe some iconic scenes from British life below as they swept over the British capital. They both then appeared to parachute from the helicopter into the grounds of the Stadium in East London! Monty Norman’s James Bond theme was played in the arena as the stunt took place.
The Queen had agreed to time her appearance at the opening ceremony to coincide with the point just after a stuntman dressed as her had leapt from the helicopter and parachuted into the Stadium alongside 007, much to the delight of the spectators, guests and TV viewers. The stunt doubles also used parachutes in Union Jack colours.
The surprise film had been shrouded in as much secrecy as possible. The short sequence was originally shot inside Buckingham Palace and its grounds, and along the River Thames in London (the helicopter was seen sweeping along the Thames, past the London Eye, and right through the famous Tower Bridge towards the London Olympics Stadium), and was actually filmed by Danny Boyle earlier this year in March and April.
According to British newspaper reports, the Queen was first approached in 2011 and was ‘very happy’ to agree to appear in the short film. Danny Boyle came up with the idea of the Bond sequence and asked the London Olympics chairman, Lord Coe, to make a formal approach to the Palace. The Queen apparently said ‘yes’ to it straight away. Some sources also claimed that during the filming, the Queen is said to have joked to Craig: ‘One take, Mr. Bond’, to which he replied: ‘Yes, Ma’am’.
Speaking about his short film the day after the highly-praised opening ceremony, Danny Boyle told the British press that the Queen ‘is a good actor. She was very helpful and very sharp. You don’t have to tell her something twice, she picks it up straight away, about cameras and angles. She was very gracious in giving us access to Buckingham Palace. She and Daniel got on very well…’.
Note: Stuntman Gary Connery (good surname!) doubled for the Queen on the Olympics opening night, while former army officer Mark Sutton doubled for James Bond.