World leaders were welcomed to Buckingham Palace for a glittering reception on Friday as the long wait for the start of the Olympic Games came to a close.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are hosting presidents, prime ministers and princes from across the globe at their London home.
London 2012 has been aptly described as the greatest sporting show on earth but the event also affords Britain the chance to strengthen its diplomatic, political and economic ties with the rest of the world.
Just a few hours before the opening ceremony, dozens of limousines began arriving at the Palace.
Among those invited 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.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was also on the guest-list along with German President Joachim Gauck.
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 joined the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
Other royals included 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.