London 2012 anniversary: Pearly Queen of Greenwich remembers momentous Olympic opening ceremony

Pearly Queen of Royal Greenwich, Gwendoline Jones

Pearly Queen of Royal Greenwich, Gwendoline Jones, with another performer who was part of the ceremony dedicated to the Windrush generation - Credit: Gwen Jones

London’s kaleidoscopic and mesmerising opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympic Games will never be forgotten by those who took part. 

With 80,000 in attendance and an estimated television audience of 900 million, Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony was hailed as the "greatest show on earth" when it took place in July 2012. 

After a cameo Queen and Daniel Craig dropped into the arena by parachute, academy award-winning Mr Boyle’s £27m spectacle celebrated Britain through the ages. 

In the opening parade, the East End's iconic Pearly Kings and Queens were invited to take part in highlighting Britain through the Industrial Revolution to the 1960s.

Dating back to 1872, the Pearlies are an association deeply rooted in working-class London, who don clothes adorned with mother-of-pearl buttons and collect money for charity. 

Pearly Queen of Royal Greenwich, Gwendoline Jones, 69, recalls the ceremony like it was yesterday. 

Following months of rehearsals, she remembers standing in the holding bay under the stage before being signalled via walkie-talkie to proceed out into the arena. 

At first, the mass of people and noise was overwhelming, but she said the impeccably choreographed event was a “feat of management”.

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Gwen added walking behind the Windrush ship and being followed by the Suffragettes was quite moving, but the highlight for her was holding an Olympic torch.

Being in the arena Gwen said she felt "immensely proud of London”.

In secret rehearsals that started months before the big day, Gwen remembers Mr Boyle was animated and thankful for their participation.

Read more: London 2012 anniversary: The free events taking place in the Olympic Park