The queen and James Bond have given the London Olympics a royal entrance like no other in an opening ceremony that rolled to the rock of the Beatles, the Stones and The Who.
The highlight of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle's $42 million show was pure movie magic, using trickery to make it seem that Britain's beloved 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II had parachuted into the stadium with film's most famous spy.
A short film showed 007 driving up to Buckingham Palace in a black London cab and, pursued by the royal dogs, meeting the queen, who played herself.
They were shown getting into a helicopter -- she in a melon-colored gown, he in a black tuxedo -- that flew them over London landmarks to the stadium, where they jumped out into the inky night.
At the same moment, real skydivers appeared in the skies over the stadium. And moments after that, the monarch appeared in person, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip.
Elizabeth stood solemnly while a children's choir serenaded her with "God Save the Queen," and members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force raised the Union Jack.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has praised London as a "diverse, vibrant, cosmopolitan" city and thanked it for hosting the games for a record third time.
The IOC leader made his remarks in a speech to 60,000 spectators and thousands of athletes at Friday's opening ceremony.
Rogge says it's "a major boost for gender equality" that all 204 participating countries include female competitors for the first time.
He has warned the athletes to reject doping, saying they will be judged by how they compete, not whether they win.
"Character counts far more than medals," he said, his words ringing out across Olympic Stadium.
Queen opens games
Queen Elizabeth II has declared the 2012 London Olympics open before tens of thousands of joyous fans.
As head of state, the 86-year-old British monarch has the honor of opening the games, which run through Aug. 12.
The queen was accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge. Earlier, she appeared in a spoof film clip with "James Bond" star Daniel Craig. The segment, a highlight of Friday night's opening ceremony, culminated with stunt doubles leaping from a helicopter and parachuting into the stadium.
Young athletes light cauldron
Seven young athletes representing Britain's hopes for the future have lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony of the London Games.
British Olympic hero Steve Redgrave carried the torch into the stadium - its final stop after a journey around the country. The five-time rowing gold medalist handed it off to the teenagers, who ignited copper "petals" on the ground.
The fire spread in a circle and the petals converged to form a large cauldron in the sky.
Costas recalls massacre
NBC's Bob Costas has acknowledged a controversy over honoring Israeli athletes killed at the Olympics 40 years ago but stopped short of offering his own protest.
The Olympic host this month had said that Olympic officials were insensitive in turning down a call to include a tribute in the opening ceremony for athletes and coaches killed in Munich in 1972 by Palestinian gunmen.
He indicated that he would offer his own moment of silence on NBC's telecast.
Costas said International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge led a moment of silence this week before 100 people in London. He said that for many, the opening ceremony is the true time and place to remember those whose lives were lost.
After a brief pause, NBC went to a commercial.
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