There are not many 86-year-olds who would be comfortable being the centre of a billion people’s attention, but when Queen Elizabeth II chose to star in a short film with James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) which saw her climb into a Union Jack chopper and then have a body double parachute into the Olympic stadium, she undoubtedly became just that.
The Queen did not leave the Olympic stadium until 1am on Saturday night, and then on Sunday morning, at 10am, she was back on site, touring the national aquatic centre and climbing the Orbit tower at the Olympic Village. Even for the Queen – who once explained her non-stop itinerary by saying ‘I have to be seen to be believed’ – the last few days have been an amazingly busy few days.
And yet, extraordinarily, she seems to be having a brilliant time.
While most Octagenerians would find such a schedule, far from the ideal way to spend a weekend, the Queen seems to be loving every minute of these Olympics so far.
But this is what the Queen does, this is what she committed to keep on doing when she ‘redicated’ herself to the nations service before her Jubilee this year, and this, it seems, is what actually makes her happy.
At the top of the 377ft Orbit tower overlooking the park yesterday, she chatted with Boris Johnson, the London mayor, about Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening ceremony, telling him it was ‘wonderful’.
And Mr Johnson told reporters: “I’ve just been discussing the Queen’s performance last night — how much she enjoyed making her dramatic debut.”
As she toured the athletes’ villages, chatting to swimmers, hockey and basketball players she even found time for a joke: “This is an extraordinarily tidy room for the athletes,” she said to one, then joked: “Maybe I should look into that cupboard.”
There were, however, hints of some tensions today behind the scenes at eh opening ceremony in the UK papers. The decision to have the torch lit not by an Olympian but seven young athletes meant that Sir Steve Redgrave brought it into the stadium, but then passed it over.
Today he writes in The Sunday Telegraph: “Being the last Olympian to carry the torch was a humbling and great honour," before adding, “Of course, looking back I must admit that when I was told it would not be me lighting the flame at the opening ceremony, I was a little disappointed.”
Today, the Queen’s grandaughter Zara Philips will make her debut in the eventing, watched by her cousin Prince William, who will also watch the Team GB men’s football match.