The Olympics officially got underway Friday with a spectacular opening ceremony, but it was Queen Elizabeth II who stole the show with an unexpected cameo and stunt entrance that had people gasping in surprise and delight.
The queen, who is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year, got a chance to play a Bond girl for the opening ceremonies. During the event, viewers saw a short film of actor Daniel Craig, the latest actor to play the iconic James Bond, walking into Buckingham Palace.
Craig, in the role of Bond, is ushered into stately offices and stands waiting for the pink-clad, elderly female figure to acknowledge his presence.
Viewers around the world were shocked when Queen Elizabeth herself – not an actress playing her – spins round in her chair and coolly says “Good evening, Mr. Bond.”
It didn’t end there. In the short film, Bond and the queen depart the palace in a helicopter that flies across London and hovers over Olympic Park. Bond opens the doors of the aircraft and he and the “queen” jump out over the stadium. A short while later, the real queen – wearing the same dress she wore in the film – walks out into the stadium to cheers and applause.
So who were the figures who actually jumped out of the helicopter? The queen’s parachuting double was daredevil Gary Connery. If the name seems familiar, that’s because Connery made history a few months ago for being the first skydiver to safely land without a parachute.
Connery’s historic parachute-less dive was realized with the use of a wingsuit. He jumped from 2,400 feet and landed in a pile of cardboard boxes set up just for that purpose.
Connery, and the Bond double, Mark Sutton, trained for months for their show-stopping jump, the Daily Mail reported.
Connery was “sewn into a copy of the salmon dress the Queen was wearing” that night, then flown to a local airport where he and Sutton boarded the helicopter that took them to the stadium, the Mail said. They jumped at 800 feet, opened their parachutes at 500 feet, and steered away from the park, landing on a nearby bridge.
The Mail said Connery only had one regret about that night: “I really wanted to keep the dress, but I wasn’t allowed. It would have looked great on a night out.”