Fresh from her star turn as the latest Bond Girl, Queen Elizabeth II returned to Olympic Park for an encore Saturday, while the usually biting British press gave a resounding review: We are amused.
The queen visited with fawning British Olympians in the athletes village and rode to the top of the 377-foot (115-meter) Orbit tower beside the stadium, where on Friday night she officially opened the 2012 Games. Her husband, Prince Philip, and London Mayor Boris Johnson accompanied her.
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. She wore a brooch given to her in 1948 - the last time London hosted the Olympics and four years before her accession to the throne.
In describing her role in the opening ceremony, created by director Danny Boyle, 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."
And, it seems, with the British media.
The Guardian called the queen's appearance "one of the highlights of Danny Boyle's tumultuously inventive opening ceremony of the 2012 Games. ... Now, thanks to Boyle, we really have seen everything."
"I was worried that there was too much self-parody, that the world might be laughing at us," wrote columnist Giles Coren in The Times of London. "But they were laughing with us. They were silently awed."
The show-stopping moment featured the queen making her acting debut alongside Daniel Craig, who portrayed James Bond in a film beamed into the stadium.
Boyle's production showed Bond striding into Buckingham Palace to escort his VIP guest to the Olympic ceremony. Many had expected a famous actress to play the role of the queen, and there was an audible gasped as the real-life royal was seen to swivel round in her desk chair and declare: "Good evening, Mr. Bond."
Buckingham Palace confirmed that the 86-year-old monarch agreed last year to participate. The filming took place at the palace in March and April and featured two of the queen's corgi dogs: Monty and Holly.
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 sequence has already provided the defining images of the games, according to the Daily Telegraph in Australia, where the queen also reigns.
"A few hundred years ago director Danny Boyle could have been sent to the Tower for even suggesting such treason," the Sydney newspaper said. "But as if to show how far England and the monarchy have come in that time, Her Majesty not only let Boyle get away with it. She was actually in on the joke."
The German newspaper Die Welt wrote that "often seen as reserved and unapproachable, the queen changed all that alongside James Bond."
The queen offered more surprises Saturday as she 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. "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."
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