There are few people who know how to keep their cards close to their chest better than Queen Elizabeth II – so much so that when she made her infamous appearance at the Olympic opening ceremony in 2012, she insisted that her cameo be kept top secret.
When Her Majesty agreed to appear alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig at the ceremony, she did so under one condition – that her involvement in the event be kept as a complete surprise to everyone in her family.
In fact, so determined was the Queen to keep her appearance under wraps, not even senior cabinet ministers in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government were briefed about the event.
Details of the lengths organisers went to keep details of the event secret have been revealed in today’s edition of BBC 4’s Reunion programme, in which key figures involved in planning the ceremony were asked to share their memories of the day in order to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Games.
Speaking on the programme, Sam Hunter, the ceremony’s production stage manager, said: “The Queen never told her family she was doing it. That was one of the stipulations, that she agreed to be part of it… So, if you actually see when she comes and she takes her seat, you can see her family go, 'Ah, nice one’.”
The sketch – which was viewed by more than a billion people on TV worldwide – was shown immediately before the Queen's actual entrance into the Olympic Stadium.
For those that need their memory jogging, the skit featured Craig arriving at Buckingham Palace in a cab before being escorted through the palace by royal staff. He then enters a room where he is greeted by none other than Her Majesty herself, who turns around and greets him with a cool and collected: “Good Evening, Mr Bond.”
The two then make their way back through the palace halls together before climbing into a helicopter, which takes off and makes its way towards the Olympic Stadium.
The final live-action sequence then cut to two stuntmen disguised as Her Majesty and Bond parachuting into the stadium from a helicopter. Minutes later, the real Queen arrived in the Royal Box wearing the same dress as the parachutist.
Executive producer Stephen Daldry, who was briefing the government about the ceremony, says: “What was hard was that you didn't really want to say much to the Cabinet because you didn't know how secure they were.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Daldry recalls having to slap Muhammad Ali – who was near-unconscious because of the drugs he had taken for his Parkinson's disease – so he could take his place on stage.
Featured Image Credit: BBC