| Halle Berry in London on Monday. (AFP) (From left to right) Keely Shaye Smith, Pierce Brosnan, Guy Ritchie and Madonna at the world premiere of Die Another Day in London on Monday. (AFP)
London, Nov. 19: The activities of the secret intelligence service are never usually acknowledged by Her Majesty’s government. But last night the Queen herself broke with precedent when she turned out to promote the latest adventures of MI6’s most famous member before the gaze of the world’s press.
The Queen and Prince Philip were guests of honour at the world premiere of the new James Bond film Die Another Day. Despite the presence of 007 the police opted for high security at this year’s royal film performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London following the recent terrorist threats.
The streets outside the venue was sealed off and officers with sniffer dogs scoured the building before the royal party arrived.
The hall itself had a make-over for the screening and had been transformed into a “glittering ice palace”. Twenty-foot icicles dangled from its facade in a design apparently modelled on the lair of the latest Bond villain, Gustav Graves, played by Toby Stephens. Opposite the hall grandstands were packed with Bond fans who cheered the arrival of the celebrity guests, among them Shirley Bassey, Britt Ekland, Fiona Fullerton and Jodie Kidd.
The Queen arrived wearing a white shawl over a gold-embossed gown, and met four of the five actors who have played the role of one of cinema’s most enduring heroes. When introduced to Pierce Brosnan the new film’s star, she said: “So you’re the modern Bond, are you' I’ve just met the other three downstairs.”
She was referring to Brosnan’s predecessors — George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. Sean Connery, an earlier Bond, was unable to attend the screening — he was filming in Prague.
Die Another Day, which opens this week, is the 20th film in the Bond franchise dating back 40 years. Also starring Halle Berry, the Oscar winner, and Rosamund Pike, an Oxford graduate, Bond is abandoned by his own side in the film and taken prisoner in North Korea.
The film was shot on a series of exotic locations, including Iceland, Hawaii and Norway, and boasts the requisite array of dazzling gadgets, among them a customised surfboard.
However, the producers appear to have taken on board recent comments by Brosnan, who complained about the propensity of recent Bond films to look like little more than marketing vehicles for designer watchmakers and car manufacturers.
In the film, Bond has ditched his BMW, which featured in his recent outings, in favour of a more traditional Aston Martin.
Berry, wearing an Oscar De La Renta gown, has had well-published marital difficulties recently and appeared at the screening alone. But she appeared to be in good spirits as she said the film was “as much fun to make as it looks”.
She dismissed criticism that the Bond franchise was sexist or demeaning to women and added: “I don’t think any woman would complain about being called a babe, especially as you age. The more you get called a babe the better it is.” Proceeds from last night's performance, about £500,000, are being donated to the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, of which the Queen is patron.