Around the Games: Queen Elizabeth scores a 10 with 007

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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 Orbit sculpture beside the stadium, where 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 away. She also was wearing a brooch given to her in 1948, the previous time London played host to 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 a year ago to participate in Danny Boyle's film portion of his nearly 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.

The sequence already has provided the defining images of the games, according to Sydney's 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 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."

And, according to Boyle, the queen, who has reigned for 60 years, was a natural in the role.

"You don't have to tell her something twice. She picks it up straight away, about cameras and angles," Boyle told NBC.

"She is a good actor," he said.

The nation's curmudgeonly media reflected the warm glow of the Olympic cauldron Saturday by lavishing widespread acclaim on the opening ceremony. Even if the lighting of the flame by seven unknown teenagers was slightly underwhelming, the show-stopping moment already had been provided by the queen.

"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."

Saturday, Her Majesty offered more surprises 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 [Friday] night," she said, referring to the opening ceremony. "[Friday] 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 [Friday] night in the stadium, but it was amazing to see her like this."


Rob Harris of The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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