On the stroke of 8.12am in London, Big Ben struck to mark the day the Olympic Games officially gets underway.
Over three minutes, London’s famous clock struck 40 times to mark the Cultural Olympiad. It is believed to be the first time in 60 years that permission has been given for Big Ben to chime outside its scheduled times.
Meanwhile the torch relay took to the water for the start of its final day following a 70-day tour of the UK.
After leaving Hampton Court Palace, a royal residence long ago, the torch was carried up the River Thames on board the royal barge Gloriana, commissioned as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
The crowds had been out since early morning, thousands wanting to witness the historic moment.
An estimated three million people will have turned out in London over the past week to cheer on the torch. It is due to arrive this evening at the Olympic Park for the opening ceremony.
Some 8,000 people have carried the torch on its journey. But who will take it into the stadium and light the Olympic flame has been kept a top secret.
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