London Pearly kings & queens set to kick off Olympics opening ceremony

PUBLISHED: 18:52 27 July 2012

Pearly kings and queens Shaun Austin (left), Lorraine Wells, John Scott, Vicky Groves and Jimmy Jukes have a right old cockney knees-up

Pearly kings and queens Shaun Austin (left), Lorraine Wells, John Scott, Vicky Groves and Jimmy Jukes have a right old cockney knees-up


London’s Cockney Pearly kings and queens will dominate tonight’s opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, the East London Advertiser can reveal.

They are giving London 2012 a true East End flavour with a ‘right ole cockney knees-up’ on stage as a key theme in Danny Boyle’s electric presentation.

Some 40 London Pearly kings and queens are believed to have been rehearsing at Stratford’s Olympic stadium on the banks of the east London’s River Lea over the past two days.

The cockney knees-up is likely to include a medley of traditional London songs, but was still under wraps this-evening.

All the world’s eyes will be on their unique and traditional suits and dresses, each adorned with hundreds of peal buttons that symbolise their famous charity fundraising.

Oscar-winning film-maker Boyle, who lives at Mile End just 15 minutes from the stadium, has been working on the London-theme stage presentation for the past two years, which is being broadcast live to billions of homes all over the world.

A campaign was launched in Bethnal Green’s Carpenter’s Arms, the official Pearly kings and queens’ pub, by Tower Hamlets Council last week to recognise officially the cockney accent and its rhyming slang as a London sub-dialect.

The council brought in Dr Sue Fox from the University of London’s Queen Mary College up the frog-and-toad (road) into the campaign after her academic study of its accents and origins.

London’s East End, traditional ‘melting pot’ of waves of immigrants down the ages, officially has 126 languages spoken in its schools. But the council believes the reality is the 127th ‘Cockney’ is probably the biggest of all, even though it’s not on the census form.

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