LONDON – The queen of England was persuaded to take part in her hilarious Opening Ceremony act with James Bond following a personal plea from her favorite movie director.
The English monarch made an exception to her public policy of speaking only in formal settings in order to perform a scene with Bond actor Daniel Craig that ended with stunt doubles resembling the pair leaping from a helicopter above the Olympic Stadium.
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The segment stole the show Friday night and was made possible after Danny Boyle, the brains behind the ceremony and an award-winning director, used the queen's love of his greatest film – "Slumdog Millionaire" – to his advantage.
"The queen made herself more accessible than ever before," Boyle said.
Yet her majesty may not have agreed to the highly unconventional request if it had not come from Boyle himself. It is not known whether Boyle realized this or not, but the entire royal family is huge fans of his work and have watched "Slumdog Millionaire" on countless occasions.
Princes William and Harry, the queen's grandsons, joined the "Slumdog" craze in 2008, when the film broke box-office records and walked away with eight Academy Awards.
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William's wife, Kate, is also an admirer, as is his father, Prince Charles, and Charles's wife, Camilla, as well as cousin Zara Phillips, who is competing in the Olympic equestrian events. The queen watched the movie on the advice of her grandchildren and made no secret of her enjoyment of the production, which followed the journey of an orphaned Indian boy from the slums of Mumbai.
"It is very much a favorite," a royal source said. "The queen watched it after being encouraged by William, Harry, and others and liked it so much she saw it again. That certainly didn't hurt when Mr. Boyle made his request for her royal highness to be involved in the Games in an extra role beyond her official capacity."
The Bond story reflected what has been a noticeable softening in the public persona of the queen in recent years. The image of the royal family was at a significant low point following the death of Diana, princess of Wales, and the queen has since tried to convey a more down-to-earth personality.
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The royal video saw Bond driven into the grounds of Buckingham Palace in the back of a black London taxicab before being led to meet the queen, who was writing at a desk. She turned to face him and uttered the single line: "Good evening, Mr. Bond."
Agent 007 and the monarch then climbed aboard a Westland helicopter, which took off into the London skies, then "reappeared" at the stadium for one of the greatest moments of an outstanding event.
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