World’s leaders get warm Royal welcome

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THE QUEEN told world leaders how she was following in the footsteps of her father and great- grandfather by opening the third London Olympiad.

The city first hosted the games in 1908 at White City and again in 1948 at Wembley Stadium three years after the end of the Second World War.

Speaking at a special reception at Buckingham Palace last night she said: “Later this evening I will take pleasure in declaring open the 2012 London Olympic Games at Stratford in the east of London.”

The Royal Family were hosting presidents, prime ministers and princes from across the globe at the Queen’s London home as the long wait for the start of the Olympic Games came to a close.

Among those attending were US First Lady Michelle Obama, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who wants to end the tradition of her country having a British monarch as head of state.

Britain’s Royal Family were out in force to welcome the foreign heads of state and government. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were joined by other royals including the Duke of York and his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence.

David Cameron led the Government and was joined by his wife Samantha, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam, Foreign Secretary William Hague and his wife Ffion, and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The Queen’s entrance was announced by a fanfare from two state trumpeters and she was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, and Charles and Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.

In a speech, the Quen told her guests a warm reception was awaiting them, their athletes and their visiting spectators.

“Over recent months many in these islands have watched with growing excitement the journey of the Olympic Torch around the United Kingdom,” she said. “As the Torch has passed through villages and towns it has drawn people together in families and communities. To me the spirit of togetherness is a most important part of the Olympic ideal, and the British people can be proud of the part they have played in keeping the spirit alive.

“Many sports played in these Games have their historic roots in this country; and as a nation we have an abiding passion for sport, as well as a tradition of fair play and a good-natured sense of fun.

“In all our national Olympic teams there is so much of which we can be proud; groups of young men and women dedicated to excellence and achievement across numerous sporting disciplines.

“And these teams are ably supported by thousands of organisers, volunteers and supporters who will be following the action not just at the Olympic venues here in the United Kingdom but throughout the world.”

About 190 guests were invited to the drinks and canapes reception including United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee.

Mrs Obama, who had forged a warm friendship with the Queen on her first state visit to the UK, chatted animatedly to the monarch and warmly greeted the Duchess of Cambridge.

Also among the guests was Charlene, Princess of Monaco, a former swimmer who competed in the 2000 Olympics for her homeland of South Africa, and her husband Prince Albert II of Monaco, also an Olympian, who took part in Winter Games as a member of the principality’s bobsleigh team.