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East London's Olympic arena to celebrate the opening of the 14th Paralympic Games.

david kingstrom By david kingstrom | August 30, 2012 | United Kingdom

Just over two weeks after the world class closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, Queen Elizabeth and her family took their places back in East London's Olympic arena to celebrate the opening of the 14th Paralympic Games.

The Queen, wearing a pale blue and champagne dress and coat designed by Angela Kelly, arrived with the President of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven.

She said in a statement before the ceremony :"It is with tremendous pride that the people of London and the United Kingdom welcome the world to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.  The Games are returning to the country where they first began, more than 60 years ago. We look forward to celebrating the uplifting spirit which distinguishes the Paralympic Games from other events, drawing on Britain's unique sporting heritage".

Queen Elizabeth was joined by her son Prince Edward, his wife Sophie the Duchess of Wessex, her grandson Prince William and his wife Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge as well as David and Samantha Cameron. Kate looked elegant in a recycled coat dress covered with golden thread. The duchess has worn the dress on at least two previous occasions. Missing from the Queen's side was the Duke of Edinburgh, who is convalescing after a recurrence of a bladder infection.

Perhaps unsurprisingly there was no sign of Prince Harry, who is still lying low following the publication of nude pictures from his recent Las Vegas holiday. He will make his first public appearance since the scandel when he cheers on Paralympic athletes on Monday.

The three young royals are all Paralympics GB ambassadors and expected to be seen among the crowds throughout the sell-out two week event.  Kate, William and Harry have confirmed attendance at three days of sport over the next two weeks. Tomorrow William and Kate will watch the goalball and track cycling events, and the Duchess will also watch swimming and athletics while William is back at work as an RAF search and rescue pilot.

Prince Albert of Monaco and his wife Charlene were also in the crowd at the stadium in Stratford. The couple attended several Olympic events, showing particular interest in the swimming competition. As an ex Olympic swimmer herself, South African Charlene made sure she was at the aquatic centre when Chad le Clos took gold for their home country.

Last night's ceremony heralds the start of 11 days of elite sporting action featuring athletes from across the world and before sell-out crowds who have made this the most successful Paralympic Games in history. The British team of 301 athletes are aiming to exceed the haul of 102 medals that they won in Bejing where they came second in the medal table.

Speaking before the ceremony, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The Olympic Games made us proud but I think this will make us prouder still because you are going to see an extraordinary display of sport.  We can be very proud that more Paralympians are taking part in more sports, in more stadia, watched by more people than at any time in the past.  It's been a sell-out and that is, I think, a great story for our country and it will inspire a lot of people and change people's views about disability and that is absolutely crucial".

Professor Stephen Hawking, the guide for the "Enlightenment" Opening Ceremony show, said: "The Paralympic Games is about transforming our perception of the world.   We are all different. There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being but we share the same human spirit.  What is important is that we have the ability to create. This creativity can take many forms, from physical achievement to theoretical physics. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at".

  • Tags:   East London's_Olympic arena opening 14th_Paralympic_Games ceremony 2012 Olympics Queen Elizabeth President_International_Paralympic_Committee Sir_Philip_Craven London United_Kingdom welcome world London_2012_Paralympic_Games 60 years Prince Edward wife Sophie_the_Duchess_of_Wessex Prince William Catherine_the_Duchess_of_Cambridge David Cameron Samantha Cameron Duke_of_Edinburgh Prince Harry Las Vegas holiday scandal Paralympics_GB_ambassadors Kate goalball track_cycling_events and Duchess swimming athletics RAF pilot Prince_Albert_of_Monaco Charlene stadium Stratford South African 11 days elite sporting action British team 301 athletes 102 medals Bejing Prime_Minister Paralympians sports stadia disability Professor Stephen Hawking guide Enlightenment human spirit creativity physical achievement theoretical physics
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