The latest details of the queen’s “jump” from a helicopter during the Olympics opening ceremony and how the jump was kept secret even from the princes are being revealed.
The secrets are emerging as the latest 007 installment “Skyfall” is hitting movie theaters, recalling the role that the latest James Bond, Daniel Craig, played in the queen’s Olympics entrance.
The “queen” who parachuted out of Bond’s helicopter was actually dare devil stunt man Gary Connery. Connery told ABC News it was an ”incredible experience to be asked to be involved in the Olympics ceremony is one thing, but then be asked to be entrance of the queen is something else and I didn’t realize how much of a frenzy it would create afterwards.”
The stunt man said he practiced jumps at night to keep the stunt under wraps.
“We had probably 10 jumps off site, so we went and did some low altitude jumps just dialing it in and realizing or understanding which would be the right helicopter to use not only from our perspective but of course it had to be one that the queen essentially can be seen to be traveling in. And then we did six test jumps on site, all late at night so the exposure was kept to a minimum. But it actually didn’t get out. I was amazed that word didn’t get out,” he told ABC News.
It was such a closely guarded secret even the princes were kept in the dark. Prince Harry said his granny was an “unbelievably good sport” for agreeing to star alongside Craig.
“It was very special to be able to keep it a secret, because obviously it wouldn’t have had the impact that it did have if people already knew it was going happen,” Connery said.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman explained to ABC News how the sequence was made saying the queen was given a proposal outlining exactly how the sequence would play out during the ceremony and what it would look like. It was filmed on two separate occasions in March and April and took just one hour to complete. According to the palace her majesty managed it in one take.
Only two of her beloved corgis were used during the skit, 13-year-old Monty and 9-year-old Holly. The queen’s real page who has been by her side for the past 20 years was filmed escorting Daniel Craig to her apartment and then through the palace.
As for the dress he was wearing, Connery said, ”They wouldn’t let me keep it. They wouldn’t let me keep the parachute either.”
“The only time I had my parachute on with the costume was either in a very secure room within the 3 mills studios, or it was actually on the night. So at no time did I jump at all with the costume other than the night itself,” he said.
Her majesty, who was wearing an identical dress, looked immaculate in that now infamous peach cocktail number. But the making of the dress was also shrouded in secrecy.
In the book “Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe” penned by her majesty’s dress maker, Angela Kelly explains that it took months of preparation to create two identical dresses, one for the monarch and the other for her stunt double. Kelly, who was working closely with director Danny Boyle who orchestrated the opening ceremonies, also says that Buckingham Palace had no idea why they were making identical outfits.
“The Buckingham Palace dressmakers worked quietly for months, never having both dresses out of storage at the same time,” Kelly writes. “Even they did not know why two dresses were required for the same event.”
Connery said that modifications were made on his dress so that leg straps could be incorporated on the inside of the costume rather than the outside.
“It would have made a mess of the outside,” he said. ” So that would have been a difference between mine and the queen’s.”
Even the choice of color played a role. The color was ”fundamental,” Kelly says, because the queen had to make an entrance and she had to stand out when she entered the Olympic stadium. But it also had to be a color that did not represent any of the participating Olympic nations. The result was a peach dress with a few embellishes including some lace detailing and beads with a pleated skirt.
Connery said that he did not meet either the queen or Daniel Craig, and their sketch was recorded a couple of months ahead of the Olympic ceremony.
”I am sure the queen is going to have me round for some tea and cakes sometime,” he said. “I was thinking of knocking on her door and saying, ‘Hi Queenie, and just want introduce myself. I am the guy who stunt doubled for you and will be your ever own stunt double’ … I am the queen’s only ever stunt double.”
ABC News’ Bruno Roeber contributed to this report