Olympic upset as Pearly kings don’t strike ‘gold’ with their Lambeth Walk

London’s Pearly kings and queens were disappointed not being able to give the 80,000 audience at Friday’s Olympics opening ceremony a big East End Cockney knees-up.

Danny Boyle’s �27 million extravaganza was an anti-climax for them after 10 weeks of rehearsal, the Advertiser has learned.

“We wanted to do the ‘Lambeth Walk’,” said Tower Hamlets Pearly Queen Lorraine Wells.

“But you had to listen to the cue on earphones and there was so much noise it was impossible.”

TV viewers around the world only caught a few seconds of the 40 Pearlies taking part, who trace their origins to the street market costermongers of the 1860s who sewed pearl buttons on their suits to draw attention to raising money for the needy of Victorian London.


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John Scott, Pearly King of Mile End with 20,000 pearl buttons on his whistle-and-flute (suit), said: “The Cockneys should have been more prominent—but it wasn’t our show.

“We were disappointed that the BBC coverage made no mention of the charity work we do.”

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Vicky Groves, the Pearly Queen of Bow, was “absolutely shattered” from all the rehearsals—then only having a ‘walk on’ part.

She added: “There were no tickets available for us—that’s a shame after all the rehearsal we did.”

But the Cockneys did get their moment to do the Lambeth Walk three days later at Victoria Park when they performed on stage at Monday’s BT Live Olympic culture show. It was followed by a patriotic rendering of Land of ‘Hope and Glory’—which made up for Friday’s disappointment.

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