The 2012 Olympics officially got under way here Friday with a celebration of Britain's culture and heritage, followed by the procession of most of the roughly 10,500 athletes competing on behalf of 204 nations.

The show was created by filmmaker Danny Boyle, director of the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire," at a cost of more than 33 million euros ($40.6 million).

One highlight was a cinematic simulation of Queen Elizabeth II and actor Daniel Craig, the current incarnation of James Bond, parachuting into London's new Olympic Stadium, packed with 62,000 people.

Spain's Queen Sofia was among the 100 or so world leaders in the audience.

Because Boyle's spectacular ran a little long, the Olympic athletes had to make their entrance almost at a trot.

As is customary in the modern Olympics, the Greek delegation was first, with the others following in alphabetical order.

The Argentine squad was led by field-hockey player Luciana Aymar, while the always-colorful Brazilians came in with equestrian athlete Rodrigo Pessoa at the head.

Spain, No. 172 in the procession, entered behind basketball star Pau Gasol, who replaced injured tennis icon Rafael Nadal as the standard-bearer.

The Spaniards sported their traditional sombreros, dispelling some of the doubts voiced back home about the elegance of this year's uniform.

With the rushed procession complete, 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II formally declared the 2012 Games open. EFE