Paralympics 2012 Opens With Firework Shower And Rihanna Hit – But No Prince Harry

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August 29, 2012 | 5:56pm EST

Rihanna’s hit Umbrella helped kick off the 2012 Paralympics in London on Wednesday night as dancers and volunteers protected themselves and disabled scientist Stephen Hawking from a spectacular firework shower.
Hawking got the opening ceremony underway from a chair beneath a metal tower, which shot fireworks high into the chilly night shy over Olympic Stadium, where the London Olympics were staged this summer.
Rihanna wasn’t present but her hit boomed out over speakers as hundreds of performers took to the floor in raincoats, holding umbrellas over their heads as foam raindrops fell.
A Brief History of Time author Hawking then spoke to the masses, stating: “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet… Try to make sense of what you see… Be curious.”
Thespian Sir Ian McKellen then appeared as Shakespeare’s Prospero for an extract of The Tempest, opposite Graeae Theatre disabled actress Nicola Miles-Wildin. Their segment followed on from The Tempest theme of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, during which Kenneth Branagh and Timothy Spall quoted lines from the play.
The Queen then declared the Games open but a notable absentee was her disgraced grandson Prince Harry, who was expected to be part of the Paralympics celebrations. Harry filmed an official message welcoming athletes but then hit headlines when photographs of him partying naked in a Las Vegas hotel suite were leaked online.

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