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London: London presented a vibrant picture of Great Britain's rich heritage and culture as a colourful opening ceremony marked the inauguration of the 30th Olympic Games at the spanky Olympic stadium here tonight.
Queen Elizabeth II declared the Games open amidst thunderous cheers from the capacity crowd of 80,000 signalling the launch of the biggest sporting spectacle which returned to Britain after a gap of 64 years, giving the country the distinction of holding the mega event for an unprecendented third time. The night sky lit up with dazzling fireworks as the Queen declared the Games open to herald London's moment of glory in the presence of as many as 100 heads of state and a host of other dignitaries who have descended on this historic city to witness the extravaganza, watched by an estimated one billion global audience.
The 27 million pound three-and-a-half-hour long opening ceremony, which magically transformed the stadium into a rural British idyll, complete with cows, horses, sheep and dogs and synthetic clouds to provide traditional British rain, was designed to give Britons a "picture of ourselves as a nation".
More than 10,000 performers took part in the opening extravaganza which vividly brought about the country-side scenes -- a cricket pitch, traditional country side cottages, mining wheel and people dressed in the Victorian era.
Actor Daniel Craig, who has played the fictional spy 007 James Bond in films, was shown in a video accompanying the Queen from Buckingham Palace into a waiting helicopter and then taking her to the Stadium. There was also a touch of British humour in the form of Rowan Atkinson who regaled the audience with his famous "Mr Bean" comic act.
The Ceremony's artistic director Danny Boyle, whose film "Slumdog Millionaire" won eight Oscars, had kept most elements of his show a secret.
Images: Getty images