Royal succession: Palace welcome as Torch heads towards opening ceremony

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry yesterday welcomed the Olympic Torch to Buckingham Palace after it was carried to the gates by West Yorkshire Scout volunteer Jon Sayer,

The Torch has travelled hundreds of miles around the UK in the run-up to the Games, which will be officially opened by the Queen during a spectacular ceremony this evening.

Mr Sayer, from Todmorden, had the honour of carrying the flame to the gates of the palace where he met the Duchess.

The 33-year-old, who last year saved the life of a man who was stranded in a swollen river, was chosen to take part in the relay after the Duchess asked for a fellow Scout to participate.

William, Kate and Harry each nominated one of their charities to take part in this leg of the relay.

Mr Sayer handed over to Wai-Ming Lee, from MapAction, a humanitarian emergency response charity which has Prince Harry as its patron, close to the Palace gates.

To cheers from the crowds lining the perimeter fence, Mr Lee walked onto the Palace forecourt and towards the Royals, who were flanked by about 40 athletes from the Team GB ambition programme, which aims to encourage future sports stars.

Mr Lee exchanged the flame with John Hulse, from the Mountain Rescue organisation which has Prince William as its patron.

Members of the Queen’s Royal Household had also gathered to wave off the torchbearer and 32 soldiers from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment escorted him up Constitution Hill to Hyde Park Corner.

Speaking about the experience of carrying the torch, Mr Lee, 38, said: “It was exhilarating and over too soon. I was walking slowly to make it last. Prince William said to me ‘Don’t drop it’.”