'Queen Elizabeth' parachutes from a helicopter during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo: Reuters
The Queen's turn as a Bond star during the Olympic Games opening ceremony was one of the best received acting debuts of a generation.
But few would have realised how much effort had gone into the design of her outfit behind the scenes to ensure that the apparently death-defying leap from a helicopter into the Olympic Stadium remained shrouded in the utmost secrecy.
A dressmaker to the Queen for almost 20 years has disclosed that even the Buckingham Palace dressmakers had no idea why two identical garments were being made for the occasion.
Politically correct colours ... Queen Elizabeth II, with Daniel Craig, in her Olympic outfit.
In a new book about how the Queen's wardrobe is assembled, Angela Kelly says that ''months of preparation'' went into the royal outfit as the Queen seemingly abandoned protocol to take a parachute jump with James Bond.
She reveals that she worked closely with the director Danny Boyle's team to ensure that the dresses worn by the Queen and her stunt double were exactly the same.
''The Buckingham Palace dressmakers worked quietly for months, never having both dresses out of storage at the same time,'' she writes. ''Even they did not know why two dresses were required for the same event.''
The colour of the dress was considered ''fundamental'', Miss Kelly reveals. It not only had to stand out as the Queen descended towards the sea of colour in the stadium, but it also had to be one not associated with any of the participating Olympic nations.
The crystal-and-lace, peach- beaded cocktail dress was designed especially for the occasion, its pleated skirt an ''important feature'' that ensured it was identifiable as the Queen left the palace and was recognised as it emerged from the helicopter.
Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe is a glossy hardback that describes the lengthy process required to put together each of the Queen's outfits, from sourcing fabrics to cutting up sequins and ensuring that every cuff, hem and neckline was the appropriate length and height.
Miss Kelly personal assistant, adviser and curator to the Queen, discloses that the monarch taught her how to test fabrics before buying.
''I will squeeze and test the sample in my hands before smoothing it out once more,'' she says. ''If the material remains creased and crumpled, it will be of no use.''
Miss Kelly says the Queen is ''frugal and very aware of costs'' and is always happy when she returns to the palace before the shops have closed.
She says the monarch ''does not mind some discomfort when looking the part is important'' and likes clothes to be fitted but not too tight.
The book reveals that, occasionally, weights are sewn into the seams of dresses to avoid potential embarrassment. Fitting sessions usually take half a day but Miss Kelly says that the Queen rarely changes her mind. ''Her Majesty's instincts are usually correct,'' she says.
The Queen's dressers spent almost two years preparing her Diamond Jubilee outfits, and tried to keep costs down by sourcing fabrics from the palace stockroom, many of which date back to 1961.
The white dress she wore for the Thames River Pageant was designed to stand out against the deep reds of the barge, Miss Kelly says.
''The Queen has a fantastic understanding of clothes and fashion,'' she adds.
The Daily Telegraph, London