I declare the Games open says Queen

The Queen opened the Olympic Games for the second time in her 60-year reign, launching the global event during a spectacular ceremony that lived up to its billing.

Director Danny Boyle's £27 million production kicked off London 2012 with imagination, style and a very British sense of humour.

But surprisingly there was a show-stealing performance by the Queen at its heart.

The Queen began the greatest sporting show on earth by telling the world: "I declare open the Games of London, celebrating the 30th Olympiad of the modern era"

But the Queen's formal contribution to the night was eclipsed by her entrance to the stadium which was heralded in dramatic style - with pre-recorded film footage showing "James Bond" and "the Queen" apparently skydiving into the stadium.

In the images 007, played by Daniel Craig, was first shown walking into Buckingham Palace surrounded by corgis to pick up the Queen, who was sitting at her writing desk.

She greeted him with the words "Good evening, Mr Bond", then the pair apparently boarded a helicopter which flew across London to the stadium. They parachuted down to the ground, but at the last moment - and in real-time - the Queen appeared in the arena to take her seat to cheers and applause. In the run-up to the show, Boyle said: "The Queen made herself more accessible then ever before."

London 2012 is the first Olympics the Queen has attended on home soil.

The then Princess Elizabeth did not attend the opening ceremony nor the rest of the 1948 Games as she was almost six months pregnant with the Prince of Wales at the time. As Canada's head of state, the Queen opened the 1976 Games in Montreal where her daughter the Princess Royal was an equestrian competitor.

At London 2012 her granddaughter Zara Phillips, Anne's daughter, will compete in the same event. Other royals at the opening ceremony included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.