Hackney’s Pearly kings and queens chosen to represent Britain’s identity for Olympic Opening Ceremony

Dozens of Pearly kings, queens, princes and princesses played their part in the opening ceremony, which aimed to portray iconic things about Britain.

The 34 members of East End’s Pearly royalty appeared in the initial section showcasing Britain’s history, the Industrial Revolution and the Suffragettes women’s rights movement.

The Original Pearly Kings and Queens Association paraded alongside a big boat depicting the Windrush generation and the Chelsea pensioners ex-soldiers, amidst a landscape of massive mining chimneys and smog.

“The roar that came up as we walked past was overwhelming, it reduced some of our Pearlies to tears,” said the Pearly Queen of Clapton, Teresa Watts, 44.

“You just can’t put that sort of feeling around the stadium into words, we had to make our exit up the stairs and we turned to the audience, in our earpieces they said, “Get off the track as soon as you can,” but the crowds were grabbing hold of our hands.


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“It was lovely to feel that warmth and that love from people.

“When we came out it was like Hollywood, cameras were flashing like mad and people were asking for autographs, when I was in the supermarket the next day this lady came over and said you were in the opening , can you sign my till receipt, I had about eight people around me asking, it was so surreal.”

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Weeks of preparation went into making the ceremony the resounding success it was.

“It’s about 150 hours per person on average they say we’ve done, and carrying our Pearlies back and forth in the case, I couldn’t even lift it on to the conveyor belt in the security searches, but we didn’t want to go dressed, I didn’t want to give the game away,” said Teresa.

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