Britain's Queen Elizabeth opened the London 2012 Paralympics tonight (29.08.12).

The British monarch sent the 80,000-strong crowd at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, into a frenzy as she officially marked the start of the sporting spectacle at the opening ceremony, and her words were followed by a stunning fireworks display and rapturous applause.

Speaking to the crowd, she said: ''I declare open the London 2012 Paralympic Games.''

The queen cracked a rare smile when she entered the stadium earlier in the night alongside British sports official and former wheelchair basketball athlete Sir Philip Craven, and the pair were greeted by huge cheers from fans inside the venue.

Elizabeth sat nearby Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, as well as Princess Anne, who was in fine form throughout the ceremony, particularly when the British Paralympic team entered the stadium and she proudly waved her Union Jack flag around.

Prince William and Duchess Catherine were also in attendance, and they sat near British Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Throughout the ceremony Sir Ian McKellen and Professor Stephen Hawking narrated, with the actor playing the part of Prospero, from William Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest', and the physicist acted as a guide to a woman playing Miranda, another character from the play.