Olympic Flame lands in UK

18 May 2012 / 20:29

The Olympic Flame has arrived in the UK ahead of a 70-day tour of the country.

Footballer David Beckham, the Princess Royal, Lord Coe, chairman of Games organisers Locog, and London Mayor Boris Johnson flew from Athens, Greece, with the flame. They were on board British Airways flight BA2012, a gold-liveried plane named The Firefly.

The Olympic Flame was held in four different lanterns, which were fastened into specially designed cradles in seats 1A and 1B for the near four-hour flight from Athens. The Airbus 319 jet landed at 7.25pm at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, near Helston, Cornwall.

The Princess Royal carried the lantern containing the flame from the aircraft, accompanied by Beckham, who hopes to play for the Team GB football squad, Lord Coe, Mr Johnson and five British sporting teenagers.

A welcoming party including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg greeted the delegation as they stepped off the plane.

Once on British soil, the distinctive gold London 2012 torch was lit from the lantern and was passed to former England captain Beckham. He then climbed on to a stage and used the torch to light a cauldron at the air-sea rescue base.

Lord Coe said: "The arrival of the Olympic Flame on home soil is a magical moment for any host country. It will connect millions of people around the UK to the Games in a unique way and allows us to celebrate the best of the UK and its people."

Mr Johnson said: "This is a fantastic moment for the London Games. With every day of the Torch relay, the excitement will build around the country as we look forward to this fantastic festival of sport and culture.

"It also signals the beginning of delivering the wonderful post Games legacy we have promised Londoners that continues to build on the jobs and economic growth that are already benefiting every corner of the capital."

The Olympic Torch will remain overnight under guard at RNAS Culdrose before being flown by the 771 Naval Air Squadron Sea King helicopter to Land's End on Saturday morning for the start of the relay.