Olympic Stamina

07.29.12

Queen Gets Into Fun Packed Olympic Spirit

Is the Queen Having Fun?
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she meets a tall member of Great Britain's Olympic squad during a tour of the Athletes Village at the 2012 Olympic Park in London, on July 28, 2012. AFP PHOTO/John Stillwell/POOL        (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/GettyImages)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she meets a very tall member of Great Britain's Olympic squad during a tour of the Athletes Village on saturday (JOHN STILLWELL / AFP / Getty Images)

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.

Actors dressed to resemble Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond parachute into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012.    AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN        (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/GettyImages)
Actor dressed to resemble Britain's Queen Elizabeth II parachutes into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London (OLIVIER MORIN / AFP / Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Queen Elizabeth II arrives for the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony  on July 27, 2012 in London, England. Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 30th  Olympiad. London plays host to the 2012 Olympic Games which will see 26 sports contested by 10,500 athletes over 17 days of competition.  (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
John Stillwell / WPA Pool / Getty Images

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.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27:  Queen Elizabeth II attends the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II attends the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, wearing the same dress she wore in the Bond film and parachute sequence (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

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.