LONDON (AP) — The Olympic flame is nowhere to be seen.
LONDON (AP) — Fresh from her star turn as the latest Bond Girl, Queen Elizabeth II returned to Olympic Park for an encore Saturday, while the usually biting British press gave a resounding review: we are amused.
The queen visited with fawning British Olympians in the athletes village and rode to the top of the 377-foot (115-meter) Orbit tower beside the stadium, where on Friday night she officially opened the 2012 Games. her husband, Prince Philip, and London Mayor Boris Johnson accompanied her.
Dressed in a royal blue silk dress, crepe coat and matching hat, the queen could be heard remarking at the views of the London skyline and countryside. she wore a brooch given to her in 1948 — the last time London hosted the Olympics and four years before her accession to the throne.
In describing her role in the opening ceremony, created by director Danny Boyle, Johnson said the queen had told him she was “very, very impressed with the success of her first film appearance, her first dramatic venture. It was very funny and seems to have gone down particularly well with the international audiences.”
And, it seems, with the British media.
The Guardian called the queen’s appearance “one of the highlights of Danny Boyle’s tumultuously inventive opening ceremony of the 2012 Games. … now, thanks to Boyle, we really have seen everything.”
“I was worried that there was too much self-parody, that the world might be laughing at us,” wrote columnist Giles Coren in The Times of London. “But they were laughing with us. They were silently awed.”
The show-stopping moment featured the queen making her acting debut alongside Daniel Craig, who portrayed James Bond in a film beamed into the stadium.
Boyle’s production showed Bond striding into Buckingham Palace to escort his VIP guest to the Olympic ceremony. many had expected a famous actress to play the role of the queen, and there was an audible gasped as the real-life royal was seen to swivel round in her desk chair and declare: “Good evening, mr. Bond.”
Buckingham Palace confirmed that the 86-year-old monarch agreed last year to participate. The filming took place at the palace in March and April and featured two of the queen’s corgi dogs: Monty and Holly.
At the end of the film segment, two stuntmen dressed as Bond and the queen parachuted from a helicopter into the stadium, and moments later Elizabeth and Philip emerged in the stands.
Boyle told NBC television that the queen had been a natural. “You don’t have to tell her something twice,” he said. “She picks it up straight away, about cameras and angles.”
The sequence has already provided the defining images of the games, according to the Daily Telegraph in Australia, where the queen also reigns.
“A few hundred years ago director Danny Boyle could have been sent to the Tower for even suggesting such treason,” the Sydney newspaper said. “But as if to show how far England and the monarchy have come in that time, her Majesty not only let Boyle get away with it. she was actually in on the joke.”
The German newspaper Die Welt wrote that “often seen as reserved and unapproachable, the queen changed all that alongside James Bond.”
The queen offered more surprises Saturday as she met about 150 members of the British Olympic team. Spectators took in the scene from balconies draped in Union Jack flags.
“For her to come through and meet the athletes, and see where we’re living, it was amazing,” said Rose Anderson, 24, a member of the women’s basketball team.
“She went inside one of the athletes’ bedrooms and chatted to us. It was just awesome, especially after last night,” she said. “Last night will never be topped. I’ll never get an experience like that again, and then this will never be topped either.”
The queen also met athletes from other nations in the dining hall.
“She’s beautiful,” said Jess Fox, who competes for Australia in the canoe slalom. “We saw her from afar last night in the stadium, but it was amazing to see her like this.”
Fashion Olympics: big designers behind games kits
LONDON (AP) — who said sportswear can’t be chic?
The athletes’ parade during Friday’s opening ceremony might as well have been a catwalk show, with some of fashion’s biggest names — Armani, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney — designing the team uniforms.
Many in the fashion industry are already calling this the most stylish Olympics ever.
“For any designer, this is the biggest audience you can possibly have for your designs and arguably the most critical,” said Avril Graham, Harper’s Bazaar executive fashion and beauty editor. “These outfits have to fly the flag and represent their nation in the eyes of the rest of the world.”
The Italians must be some of the best-dressed athletes, scoring points with an understated monochrome kit in navy and white by Giorgio Armani, as well as waterproof blue designs for their sailing team by Prada.
Stella McCartney has worked with Adidas to design the sporting gear and “village wear” (read lounge wear) for Britain’s home team, though the outfits weren’t on show Friday as athletes covered up in white and gold tracksuits. McCartney’s gear takes inspiration from the iconic Union flag, but she said she deconstructed it to make it “more delicate and feminine.” Look out for them on the track and at the pool: Red is sparingly used to highlight a palette that mostly features white and shades of blue — turquoise, navy, cobalt.
Meanwhile, the American team may have gotten a barrage of bad press for its made-in-China Ralph Lauren uniforms, but the preppy designs were still some of the most stylish in the arena: clean-cut navy blazers, crisp white trousers, skirts, and shoes, accessorized with navy berets and blue, red and white striped scarves.
The Jamaican team is in the spotlight because of sprinter Usain Bolt, so it’s fitting that it also got a boost in the fashion stakes this year. its kit, which features the national colors as well as lightning-like prints, was designed by Cedella Marley, daughter of legendary singer Bob Marley, for Puma. The styles were modeled by a flamboyantly dancing Bolt at a London catwalk recently.
“Cedella Marley brings island color to team Jamaica — a sea of tropical yellow, green and black,” Graham said Friday.
Other designers behind the Olympics this year include luxury label Hermes, which designed riding jackets for the French equestrian team, and Salvatore Ferragamo, which designed the official uniform for the tiny European republic of San Marino.
Some designers didn’t get involved in the official Olympics gear but used the games as an opportunity to cash in and promote their brands anyway.
Karl Lagerfeld, for example, launched an Olympic-themed women’s wear collection called Team Karl at the London department store Selfridge’s — though he reportedly said he wouldn’t tune in to watch the games.
Meanwhile, high-street chain store H&M said it was launching two pop-up stores dedicated to selling sportswear in London.
Friday’s parade of athletes also showcased some surprising and less popular designs.
The German team was notable for not using its national colors at all. Instead, the kit was all hot pink for the women’s jackets and cornflower blue for the men. both were paired with white trousers.
The Czechs, meanwhile, wore bright blue wellington rain boots paired with white shorts.
Spectators also made their own judgments about the much-maligned uniforms for the Spaniards and Russians, both made by Russian sportswear company Bosco. Some Spanish athletes have posted tweets grumbling about their garish red and gold outfits, and there are even Spanish Facebook groups set up to campaign against the gear.
Official kit aside, there were strong fashion showings in the spectator stand, too.
Michelle Obama chose a white dress by J. Mendel, while the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, dazzled with a pastel blue satin and belted coat dress reportedly by wunderkind Christopher Kane.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife, Samantha, demonstrated her fashion credentials with a bold red and black outfit by London-based designer Roksanda Illincic.
Olympic visitors take gold-medal hit in wallet
LONDON (AP) — Day 1 in Olympic Park and already visitors were feeling it in their wallets.
“Twenty-five pounds for a T-shirt?” exclaimed Catherine Goley of Birmingham, who was browsing through a London 2012 souvenir shop near Olympic Stadium Saturday — and made a hasty exit after finding nothing in her price range.
The one-eyed Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville were going for 15 pounds ($23) a pop, while the hometown “Team GB” backpacks ran 37 pounds ($57). Team GB tablet sleeves were a relative steal at 12 ($18) pounds apiece.
“The stuff they were selling in the supermarkets was much cheaper,” she said.
Goley had tickets for Saturday night’s swim finals but others without tickets came to the park just to check it out on the first day of competition after the opening ceremony, paying 10 pounds ($15) to get in and another 15 pounds ($22) to go up the Orbit observation deck.
Colleen Whalen, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said she would have paid to go up since that’s the only way to see inside the main stadium and the Olympic flame, but tickets were sold out.
Whalen, who won a ticket to the swim finals, said she briefly considered buying a ticket for the opening ceremony, but balked at the price for a last-minute seat.
“The only tickets left were 1,800 or 2,300 pounds and, yes, that’s definitely out of my price range.” (In dollars, that’s $2,800 to $3,570).
Food wasn’t any bargain, either — expensive even for a city long considered one of the world’s costliest.
A healthy portion of the British mainstay fish and chips set John Porter back 8 pounds, 50 pence — and that was just for his 8-year-old niece Freya. Normally it costs about half as much. Porter, who lives in a London suburb, had a roast beef sandwich, and wasn’t terribly impressed.
“At 8 pounds, I’ll be honest. I won’t have it again.”
Stadium prices are always higher than what you can get outside the venue, and London is no exception. Tickets for events started at 20 pounds ($31) and went up from there.
As a result, Whalen, the Ohio bank manager, said she didn’t blink at the 26-pound Olympic logo polo shirt she bought her husband.
“I didn’t think it was too bad for an event as high-profile as this,” she said. “You have to expect prices will be a bit higher.”
But at least she bought something. On Saturday, several athletes were seen window shopping at the Westfield Mall on the edge of Olympic Park, but many returned home empty-handed.
“I am just here to look,” Marouane M’rabet, a Tunisian volleyballer, explained apologetically to a sales clerk who had spent the last five minutes rubbing a sample bottle of massage oil onto his forearm, even offering a discount if he bought more than one.
After he and a teammate walked off, the woman explained the problem.
“They aren’t allowed to bring any liquids into the athletes village,” she said, a reference to tight security at the closed-off complex where the Olympians are housed. “So they never buy anything.”
UK police charge two over Olympic ticket scalping
LONDON (AP) — A German man and a Slovakian woman were charged Saturday by British police over alleged attempts to illegally resell tickets to the Olympic opening ceremony, while 16 others have been arrested in the last two days over similar offenses.
Scotland Yard said that 57-year-old Wolfgang Menzel and 30-year-old Maria Bukranova were charged after plain clothes officers carried out an operation against ticket scalpers — known as ticket touts in Britain — on Friday night.
The two — and five others — were arrested just hours before the ceremony began at London’s Olympic stadium.
Police said that three men are being questioned, one woman has been released without charge and another man has been bailed pending further inquiries.
Two other people were arrested over the alleged theft of two Olympic lane passes — which allow the bearers to use lanes on London roads reserved for officials and VIPs.
Scotland Yard said it had also detained 11 men on Saturday over suspected ticket fraud — two have been bailed while inquiries continue, one has been freed and eight are being questioned.
“My team has been working tirelessly to clamp down on ticket touts. we have been, and will continue to seek out and take robust action,” Det. Supt. Nick Downing said.
“Ticket touting is illegal and is a clear exploitation of those who genuinely wish to experience the games first-hand,” he said.
London mayor: Olympic ceremony attack ‘nonsense’
LONDON (AP) — London’s mayor says a fellow member of Britain’s governing Conservative Party was talking nonsense when he criticized the Olympic opening ceremony as too political.
Aidan Burley, a 33-year-old legislator, posted a message to his Twitter account accusing Friday’s ceremony of being too “leftie” — slang for politically left wing — and criticizing its use of rap music.
Director Danny Boyle’s ceremony hailed Britain’s National Health Service, begun in 1944 under a center-left Labour Party government, and celebrated the nation’s ethnic diversity.
London Mayor Boris Johnson, a member of the center-right Conservatives, said Burley’s comments were “nonsense,” and the event had left him with “hot tears of patriotic pride.”
Burley last year lost a junior government role after he attended a party in France where a guest wore a Nazi uniform.
NBC sets opening ceremony record
NEW YORK (AP) — A look at media coverage of the London Olympics:
Olympic Capsules – Games News & Sunday: Invisible flame is burning issue of London Games