Film stars mingled with royals at the world premiere of Spectre on Monday, marking British secret agent James Bond’s glitzy return to the silver screen.
Fans who lined the red carpet not only got to see Daniel Craig -- resplendent in a dark tuxedo and earthy smile -- and glamorous co-stars Lea Seydoux and Monica Belluci, but could also catch a glimpse of Prince William, his wife Kate, and Prince Harry, still sporting a beard.
All eyes were on Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was among the last to arrive at the Royal Albert Hall before the film rolled. She chose a light blue Jenny Packham dress for the event.
The two princes wore tuxedos, which have been something of a Bond trademark since the days when Sean Connery played 007 for the first time in Dr No in 1962. The royals, who arrived in a Bentley, were greeted by director Sam Mendes and co-producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson.
Hundreds of cheering fans greeted Craig upon arrival at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where residents from nearby buildings watched the premiere from their windows. Returning for the fourth time as 007, Craig said his own excitement at being allowed to continue in the series stemmed from his involvement beyond acting.
“I’ve just been allowed to be creatively involved with these films from the very beginning and I’ve continued to do it with this,” he said. “Thankfully we’ve just got the most amazing team around us and we figure it out.”
Craig has been quoted as saying he wanted out of the franchise and told an interviewer in July he would rather slit his wrists than play 007 again. Asked how much he knew of his future as Bond, Craig said: “I know enough”.
He was joined on the red carpet by co-stars Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, director Sam Mendes and movie producer Barbara Broccoli. “It’s incredible how James Bond represents so much, not just in England but all over the world,” Bellucci said.
Mendes, who won an Oscar for American Beauty in 1999, said: “We sweated blood over it and I’m really, really thrilled and a little bit relieved. It was two and a half years’ work.”
Asked about what it felt like to be a “Bond girl” -- a term that is sometimes seen as patronising towards actresses -- Seydoux smiled and said: “I don’t know if I’m a Bond girl, I’m just a blonde girl.”
Seydoux, who wore a gold lame dress, plays Madeleine Swann, a psychologist and daughter of a former Bond villain. Bellucci is Lucia Sciarra, the “beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal”.
At 51, Bellucci is reportedly the oldest ever “Bond girl” and is four years Craig’s senior. Ralph Fiennes, who plays Bond handler and MI6 chief “M”, said it was “a very well-crafted film. It has great energy and forward momentum.”
Trailers have shown action-packed scenes typical of Bond movies as 007 uncovers the shady Spectre organisation, and its dark link to villain Franz Oberhauser, played by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz.
Spectre has stood as an acronym for the Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion in past Bond films. “It’s a terrible pressure to be iconic and I practised it at home secretly,” Waltz said.
Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, will be released worldwide in early November.