Britain opened its Olympics with a royal entrance like no other. London greeted the world in a celebration of Old England that was stunning, imaginative, whimsical, and dramatic. Cheeky, too, with a stand-in for Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into Olympic Stadium, accompanied by James Bond, no less. Brit director Danny Boyle masterminded the festivities. As for the top-secret torch-lighter(s): Seven teenage British athletes got the honor.
Much of the opening ceremony was an encyclopedic review of British music history, from a 1918 Broadway standard adopted by the West Ham soccer team to The Who's "My Generation" to "Bohemian Rhapsody," by still another Queen. The evening started with fighter jets streaming red, white, and blue smoke and roaring over the stadium, packed with a buzzing crowd of 60,000 people. An explosion of fireworks against the London skyline and Paul McCartney's singalong ("Hey Jude" was one) wrapped things up. (Read more 2012 London Olympics stories.)