LONDON — Britain opened its Olympics with a royal entrance like no other. London greeted the world in a celebration of Old England that was stunning, imaginative, whimsical and dramatic — and cheeky, even featuring a stand-in for Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into Olympic Stadium.

LONDON — Britain opened its Olympics with a royal entrance like no other.

London greeted the world in a celebration of Old England that was stunning, imaginative, whimsical and dramatic — and cheeky, even featuring a stand-in for Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into Olympic Stadium.

Moments later, the 86-year-old monarch herself stood solemnly while a children's choir serenaded her with "God Save the Queen," and members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force raised the Union Jack.

Much of the opening ceremony was an encyclopedic review of British music history, from a 1918 Broadway standard adopted by the West Ham soccer team to The Who's "My Generation" to "Bohemian Rhapsody," by still another Queen.

The evening started with fighter jets streaming red, white and blue smoke and roaring over the stadium, packed with a buzzing crowd of 60,000 people, at 8:12 p.m. — or 20:12 in the 24-hour time observed by Britons. The ceremony will be shown on American television at 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC.

An explosion of fireworks against the London skyline and Paul McCartney leading a singalong were to wrap up the three-hour opening ceremony masterminded by one of Britain's most successful filmmakers, Oscar winner Danny Boyle.

He led off his spectacular in his favored medium: A movie depicted a high-speed flyover of the Thames, the river that winds like a vein through London and was the gateway for the city's rise over the centuries as a great global hub of trade and industry.

The rush of images showed a cricket match, the London Tube and the roaring, abundant seas that buffet and protect this island nation — set to a pulsating soundtrack including snippets of the Sex Pistols' more irreverent cover of "God Save the Queen."

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The opening ceremony wasn't the only thing to talk about in London on Friday, however, as several events got under way:

In what is sure to be one of the most memorable Olympic performances this summer in London, South Korean archer Im Dong-Hyun broke the archery world record for 72 arrows on Friday, accumulating a score of 699. What makes Im's performance so impressive is the fact that he suffers from severe myopia and is registered blind.

Senegal surprised Great Britain in a 1-1 draw to start the Olympic tournament for both squads. The appearance by Great Britain ended a 52-year absence by the squad, but Senegal did their best to spoil the celebration.

In soccer, anything can happen. Japan defeated heavily-favored Spain 1-0 on Thursday in each club’s first match of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Besides Brazil, the Spanish are considered the team to beat in London.

The celebration finished almost as quickly as the comeback itself. The recovery will have to be just as swift. The United States women's soccer team spent Thursday recovering from Wednesday's 4-2 win over France, a match that served as an emotional roller-coaster for the players and their fans.

NBC's coverage: Get tweet-by-tweet coverage from the Opening Ceremony of 2012 Games and reaction from viewers inside Olympic Stadium in London and around the world on our Twitter Tracker.