Locked up in the Tower of London
by Burlington Bertie
64 years ago I watched the Olympic Torch born into Wembley stadium in London to light the Olympic cauldron at the start of the 1948 Olympic Games. The torch had arrived in Dover from France by Royal Navy ship that very morning.
Things were very different last week when the Flame arrived in London for the 2012 London Olympiad. After a 70 day UK marathon involving some 7,000 torch bearers aged between 12 and 100, and more than 10 million spectators, the Olympic Flame crisscrossed Britain from Cornwall, where it had arrived by air to be greeted by David Beckham, to the northern reaches of Scotland, (with a quick detour to Northern Ireland and the Giant's Causeway).
The Flame was finally helicoptered into London seven days before the opening ceremony on Friday 27 July. I watched with several thousand onlookers on Tower Bridge and Southbank as a young Royal Marine, who had survived injury in Afghanistan, rappelled down with the Flame from a helicopter hovering over the Tower of London. Once there, the Flame was carried round the battlements before being handed to the Constable of the Tower and London's ebullient Mayor, Boris Johnson. Boris used the occasion to wisecrack that this was not the first time an 'old flame' had been locked up in the Tower! Henry VIII had disposed of two wives there.
Later that evening the Flame was used by the Beefeaters to light the 700-year-old daily Ceremony of the Keys, before being locked up for the night in the White Tower with the Crown Jewels and all the Olympic medals.
In the final week before the Torch reaches the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony it will be carried to every borough and seen at all London's the iconic landmarks.
Who will carry the Torch into the stadium and light the Olympic cauldron remains a secret, but many are betting that it will be Britain's hero of the hour, cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the three times gold medalist who won the famed Tour de France on 22 July; the first British cyclist to achieve this in the race's 99 year old history. Whoever it is, I shall be there to watch him/her, together with Her Majesty The Queen, some 100 heads of state, 3000 captains of industry - and 3 billion television viewers around the world including you. See you there!
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