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Britian's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, stand in front of participants of the men's road cycling race at the London 2012 Olympic Games at The Mall on Saturday.


It's not on the Olympic calendar, but for spectators, it's always an unofficial sport here in London.

Royals watching.

Friday night offered a great opportunity, too, as the Queen and company had to leave Buckingham Palace to attend the opening ceremonies.

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And when the Queen is on the move, it's quite a production.

The streets around the palace were cordoned off for long stretches of the night, keeping tourists and other onlookers about a football field's length away from the main gates.

There were hundreds of police and soldiers on hand, with some on motorcycles patrolling and several of the officers brandishing imposing guns as they kept an eye on the growing crowd.

Add in a few helicopters, presumably from the media and military, and it was an interesting day to visit the home of the Queen.

Even with under an hour to go before the ceremonies, as Kate Middleton, Prince Charles and others had already been whisked by in fancy cars – Kate offering a wave to those watching – people kept showing up.

Because the Queen's arrival (with a little help from James Bond) came so late in the ceremony, it was ultimately quite a wait for those on hand to see her go by, but those who put in the time likely weren't disappointed. (Police assured tourists they would see something if they waited around, as they acted like de facto info guides with little to do but wait.)

Me? I wasn't sitting around for a wave – and made it to a nearby pub to take in the ceremony.

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The highlight of the night for the locals at the nearby watering hole was definitely Mr. Bean's appearance, as otherwise they kept pretty quiet (but interested) in the proceedings.

And now the story of the day for the British media the next two weeks will be what events the royals are attending.

On Saturday: Charles and Camilla at cycling and badminton. Oh boy!

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Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More


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