LONDON -- Bond. James Bond.
Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth II.
Actor Daniel Craig and Her Majesty the Queen are starring together in a short film to open the Summer Olympics in London.
Working with Danny Boyle, artistic director of the Opening Ceremonies, Queen Elizabeth and Craig have made "The Arrival," in which 007 visits Buckingham Palace to receive his instructions for his latest mission, to open the 2012 Games. The film crew was given "unprecedented access" to the queen's private rooms and the palace for the piece.
It will be a busy summer for her. She celebrates her 60th year on the throne with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee the first weekend in June, including a festive pageant June 3 on the River Thames. Elizabeth came to the throne Feb. 6, 1952, and her coronation took place June 2, 1953.
London will host the Olympics July 27 through Aug. 16, only the third time the Summer Olympics have been held here. The previous Olympics were in 1908 and 1948, the latter nicknamed the "Austere Olympics," coming as they did on the heels of World War II. Close on the heels of the Games of the XXX Olympiad will be the Paralympics (Aug. 29-Sept. 9), using the same venues, including Olympic Park in East London.
The Olympics Opening Ceremonies, which Elizabeth is expected to attend, are being created by film director Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire"). Reports are circulating that Boyle won't attempt to top the spectacular staging and fireworks of the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremonies, but instead will pay homage to Shakespeare's "The Tempest." The short film with Craig, the latest in the James Bond series, will honor that fictional character's 50th year in the movies as well.
More than 300 special events have been scheduled throughout London this summer. This year also is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth, the 50th anniversary of the first Beatles album and the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. All that, plus the opening of the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Watford Junction, east of London.
Preparations to entertain and inform the massive summer crowds of London residents mixed with tourists from all over the world include exhibitions, renovations and redevelopment throughout the city.
A $20 million refurbishment at Kensington Palace has tripled the space available to the public at the official London residence of William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the expected future official residence of Prince Harry.
The palace has been a residence for royals for centuries, and the new look invites the public, even children, to interact with exhibits. One display, "Diana: Glimpses of a Modern Princess," features a selection of dresses worn by the Princess of Wales. On another floor, the "Victoria Revealed" exhibition features personal items, correspondence and artwork from the only other monarch to last 60 years on the British throne. (Queen Victoria is Elizabeth's great-great-grandmother). There are toy replicas from the Victorian era, brightly lit displays of royal garb and gadgets.
The home of the crown jewels, where British kings and queens for more than six centuries have stored their jewels, robes and scepters, also has undergone renovation, or "re-presentation." The Jewel House at the Tower of London now funnels visitors through a series of displays that teach the history and role of each jeweled item. The display will explore how the jewels have been used in royal coronations at Westminster Abbey since 1066.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service www.scrippsnews.com)