Being no stranger to posh company, David Beckham was an obvious choice to accompany the Princess Royal to Athens to take delivery of the Olympic torch.
The pair, accompanied by Lord Coe, Boris Johnson, and as is the London 2012 way, some specially selected “young people”, flew to Athens today onboard flight BA2012, a special aircraft named “the Firefly” and painted gold, thus matching the balls contained therein.
Princess Anne will receive the torch at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, home of the 1896 games, in a special ceremony Friday evening.
She will also be first to emerge when the Firefly lands at RAF Culdrose in Cornwall on Friday, conveniently close to Lands End, and a long way from the queues at Heathrow, where the Torch Relay begins the following morning
Her grandfather, Prince Philip, aka Phil the Greek, may have been the more pertinent choice, but his family was unfortunately banned from the country for life in a 1922 military coup.
Becks and the Princess Royal are not the only Olympians keen to avoid Heathrow. It has emerged that several major Olympic teams will be departing London after the closing ceremony from Stansted airport, and not Heathrow airport’s near £20m specially constructed Games Terminal. Airport officials have said they expect the day after the closing ceremony to be the busiest in the airport’s history. The teams, said to include China, Australia and Canada, will depart on chartered jets, which Heathrow are not permitting during the games, for fear of disruption to their already packed scheduled service.
The canal boat company Water Chariots has long been talking of the convenience of its services from right behind the Olympic stadium upriver to Tottenham Hale station, from where there is a connection to the Stansted Express train service, by distance, one of the world’s most expensive train services. On August 13th next year, its passengers may be carrying more gold than normal.