The top secret story of Queen Elizabeth’s famous skydiving cameo at the Olympics with Daniel Craig

As the world mourns Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday at the age of 96, one of her many pop culture appearances in recent years that stands out is the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. At the start of the broadcast, a three-minute film was played of Her Majesty and the iconic James Bond, then played by Daniel Craig, meeting at the palace before entering the Olympic stadium at the same time.

The project, spearheaded by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, is something she kept a secret from even her fellow royals, according to an episode of TSWT Radio 4’s The reunion which commemorated the 10th anniversary of the moment.

“The Queen never told her family she did it,” said production director Sam Hunter. “That was one of the conditions, that she agreed to be a part of it. So if you really see when she comes and she takes a seat, you can see her family go, ‘Ah, nice.’”

Stephen Daldry, who worked as the event’s executive producer, said the production team had to keep the Queen’s cameo a secret, even from part of then Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet. Some of those people communicated regularly with Buckingham Palace, so if they knew, the secret could be out.

Their discretion paid off when the skit was broadcast to an audience of over a billion people.

While the actual jump was of course performed by body doubles, the camaraderie the Queen and Craig came to share was real.

“Like so many others, I was deeply saddened by today’s news and my thoughts are with the royal family, those she loved and everyone who loved her,” Craig told Yahoo Entertainment after her death. “She leaves an incomparable legacy and will be greatly missed.”

Craig and the Queen were also photographed together in 2006, at the premiere of Craig’s first performance as 007, Casino royale.

Queen Elizabeth Greets Daniel Craig at the World Premiere of Casino royale on November 14, 2006 at Leicester Square in London. (Photo: STEPHEN HIRD/TSWT via Getty Images)

She formally recognized the actor in December, after he announced his departure from the franchise, on her annual New Year’s list. Craig was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for his outstanding contribution to film; Bond himself had earned credit on film for his work as a spy.

In February, Craig revealed just a smidgen of how the Queen was private while performing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He said she was “very funny, very funny” and liked to joke about him.

“We had our photo taken,” he said of the ceremony, “and she just said, ‘Oh no, he’s the one who isn’t smiling.’”

Craig complimented the Queen’s beloved corgis, who stood by her side in the film until she took to the skies.

“I used to roll around with them. I mean, they’re just there. I think they have their own lackeys,” Craig said. “And yes, they are very friendly.”

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