When Queen Elizabeth Parachuted from a Helicopter

By Shlomo Maital    

   In 2012, at the opening of the London Olympics,   an estimated 900 million people came to witness Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II apparently parachuting from a helicopter with James Bond.

     Frank Cottrell-Boyce  wrote the scene for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. On the BBC’s The Real Story podcast, he explains how it came about.

     He and a team brainstormed ideas.  They wrote them on slips of paper and hung them on a clothesline.  One idea that didn’t make the clothesline was jokingly to have the Queen parachute out of a helicopter, with “James Bond” and a British flag, and have it all shown on a huge screen in the Olympic Stadium.  That brought laughter…. But later, a member of the team suggested, hey, why not?  Laughter is a sure sign an idea has promise.

       * Rule 1 for creativity:  Cultivate wild ideas!

        Cottrell-Boyce broached the idea to the Queen’s aide.  The response was enthusiastic.  The Queen loved the idea, to the surprise of all.  A film crew filmed the Queen herself preparing for the ‘jump’, with her Corgis.  The Queen herself reviewed in detail the plans, and noted that “the plan to fly a helicopter under Tower Bridge had the wrong kind of helicopter”!  She was right.

         A stunt man, Mark Sutton, dressed as James Bond and Gary Connery doubled as the Queen; together they did the jump.  The Queen herself,  who had no spoken parts in the script, asked for “a line”.  She got it.  “Good evening, Mister Bond.” This line was another idea of hers.  

       The stunt men jumped from the helicopter, landed near the Stadium – all of this shown on the big screen —  and then the Queen herself, the real Queen, made her entry into the stadium, to wild applause.  She herself was somewhat taken aback, surprised, by the standing ovation. 

        I recall when on Feb. 6, 1952,  King George VI died suddenly, and his daughter, Elizabeth, only 25, became Queen.  Canada, a dominion, mourned and wished the young Queen well.   She served her country for longer than any other Queen and fulfilled her pledge, made as a young girl, to serve above all. 

        Is the monarchy an anachronism?  Not in an age when we have leaders like Trump, Orban, Bolsinaro,  Maduro, Putin and Netanyahu.  Queen Elizabeth lived to serve her country, not to serve herself. 

     It is fun to remember that picture of the “Queen” jumping out of a helicopter, to make people everywhere happy.   They don’t make queens like that any more…..