The Queen, Prince William and Kate were all on hand tonight for the formal opening of London’s paralympic games.
The Duchess of Cambridge recycled an old favourite, wearing a pale gold Birger et Mikkelsen coat dress worn previously to three weddings, including the nuptials, in 2006 of Laura Parker Bowles, and again at Zara Phillips’ wedding.
Prince Harry was not present, and had not been scheduled to attend, although it is believed he will attend the swimming tomorrow.
The event opened with Stephen Hawking, the legendary theoretical scientist, speaking via his electronic voice box, from the London Olympic stadium, urging: “Look up at the stars, not at your feet. Be curious.”
Thousands of volunteers, both able-bodied and disabled, performed in the visually spectacular opening routine, dancing with umbrellas (although thankfully the rain held off) and on high-wires.
The theme of the three-hour show, which began at 8.30pm was ‘Enlightenment’, and Prof Hawking guided the audience on a voyage of scientific discovery from the Big Bang to the Large Hadron Collider.
Creative director Stephen Daldry used Shakespeare’s Tempest as its touchstone, directing Sir Ian McKellen as Prospero and disabled actress Nicola Miles-Wildin, playing Miranda.
By co-incidence, a line from the Tempest was also used in the opening ceremony of the Olympics, when Caliban’s “be not afeard, the isle is full of noises” was quoted.