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Originally published Friday, July 27, 2012 at 4:16 AM

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Star-studded audience for Olympic opening ceremony

The Olympic opening ceremony had monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, Michelle Obama and the cast of "Downton Abbey" - and that was just in the audience.

Associated Press

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LONDON —

The Olympic opening ceremony had monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, Michelle Obama and the cast of "Downton Abbey" - and that was just in the audience.

The ceremony itself included Muhammad Ali, Paul McCartney and David Beckham - who drove the Olympic flame down the Thames in a speedboat. This was a decidedly A-list affair.

Among the 60,000 spectators at Olympic Stadium was Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip and younger royals including Prince William and his wife Kate, and Prince Harry.

There was a sprinkling of screen stars, including British actors Richard E. Grant and Orlando Bloom, who stopped to take pictures with British soldiers and fans outside the stadium.

"I'm a big fan of Danny Boyle, so I'm excited to see what he's done," Bloom said.

Actor Hugh Bonneville, who plays aristocrat Lord Grantham in the costume drama "Downton Abbey," tweeted a picture of his fellow cast-members arriving at the stadium.

Across town in Hyde Park, Duran Duran, Paolo Nutini, Stereophonics and Snow Patrol played at a concert for music fans who couldn't go to the ceremony, which was shown on big screens.

The British government says more than 80 heads of state and government were in the Olympic Stadium audience, including royalty from Brunei, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

The U.S. was represented by first lady Michelle Obama, and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was also on hand, a day after making himself unpopular in Britain by expressing doubts about the country's ability to pull off a successful games.

Britain proved Friday it could pull off a successful opening ceremony. Boyle's show, a 27 million pound ($42 million) spectacular titled "Isles of Wonder," drew rave reviews from live and television spectators.

Beckham, who helped bring the games to London, said the ceremony was "an amazing moment."

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Associated Press Writer Cassandra Vinograd contributed to this report.

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