The Queen opened the Olympic Games on Friday 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 £27m 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.

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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."

The Queen is known for her sharp sense of humour and probably relished the chance to remain true to her office - regal and stately - yet send herself up.

It was a rare public glimpse of the private woman, who regularly uses a joke to put nervous guests at ease.

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

Then Princess Elizabeth she 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 grand daughter 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.

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  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Team GB, led by flagbearer Sir Chris Hoy, enter the stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Chris Hoy of the Great Britain Olympic cycling team carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Great Britain's Chris Hoy carries the flag during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Actors playing nurses perform during the

    Actors playing nurses perform during the Great Ormond Street Hospital scene during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Performers during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The Olympic Rings during the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Aerial view shows the people parachuting

    Aerial view shows the people parachuting (upper L) above the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Acto

    PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Frank Turner performs during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

  • Actors wait for the beginning of the ope

    Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / SAEED KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Acto

    PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ANTONIN THUILLIER (Photo credit should read ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Sheep graze during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A game of cricket is played by performers during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor tends sheep during the pre-show prior to the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Guitarist Frank Turner performs during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Cricketers play cricket on the pitch during the preshow prior to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

  • Actors stand under the rain during the B

    Actors stand under the rain during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Danny Boyle speaks during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor walks during the British meadow

    An actor walks during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Actors play cricket during the British m

    Actors play cricket during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Fans shelter from the rain during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Britain's Prince Charles, left, and his wife Camila, Duchess of Cornwall arrive for the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Industrial workers in a scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Industrial workers in a scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor dressed to resemble Britain's Q

    An actor dressed to resemble Britain's Queen Elizabeth II parachutes from a helicopter over the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Giant puppets depict villainous characters from British literature during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

  • Actors playing nurses attend to children

    Actors playing nurses attend to children in hospital beds during the Great Ormond Street Hospital scene in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Actors and dancers play Great Ormond Str

    Actors and dancers play Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital staff and patients during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: A general view of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a view of the Industrial Revolution during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Sir Kenneth Brannagh recites Shakespeare during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: David Beckham passes under Tower Bridge driving a speedboat named 'Max Power' which carries the Olympic Torch with its torchbearer on July 27, 2012 in London, England. Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 30th Olympiad. London plays host to the 2012 Olympic Games which will see 26 sports contested by 10,500 athletes over 17 days of competition. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Children representing the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the NHS and children literature take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • London Olympic Games

    The history of Great Britain played during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.