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Good evening Mr Bond


With this phrase, accompanied by an indefinable look aimed at agent 007 himself, Her Royal Highness the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, became one of the most famous Bond girls of recent times. It was one of the most anticipated and brilliant moments of the grand opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Daniel Craig, Mr Bond, in an impeccable tuxedo was led to the Queen's private quarters, accompanied by the trot of three royal Corgis; Monty, Holly and Willow, who followed Her Majesty and Mr Bond to the foot of the helicopter that took them to the Olympic stadium. The rest is engrained in the minds of all those who watched with admiration a show that was solemn, respectful of British history and included touches of typically British humour, like that I use to open this month’s editorial, which as always, is about animals, the respect that we owe them and how to improve, through laws, their legal status and the perception of society and culture.

Perhaps few people know that in the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games, apart from the obligatory appearance of the Queen's dogs - which by the way, appear on the official website of the British Monarchy in the “Family pets” section of “Royal Animals [1]- director Danny Boyle introduced, not without controversy, live animals in the initial scenes of the British countryside. It was the first time (except for pigeons) that animals had appeared in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and as a result, led to intense negotiations with the numerous animal protection societies that are very active and carry great social and political weight in Great Britain. The Queen is the President of more than 30 associations and organisations including the RSPCA, The Red Poll Cattle Society and the Labrador Retriever Club [2].

Concern for the welfare of the animals in the opening scenes of the ceremony caused confrontation between the organising committee and thousands of British citizens, who sprung into action through social networks, and protection societies with support from relevant personalities, including Sir Paul McCartney, who opposed to using live animals in a show that, given its characteristics, was going to subject them to very high levels of stress due to the noise of the public (62,000 spectators), the music, lights and atmosphere. They claimed that such exhibition conditions were against current animal welfare laws and went against the commitment, undertaken centuries ago by the entire British society and its legislators, to respecting animals, which British society as a whole is proud to love and protect: “The UK prides itself on being a nation of animal lovers - exploiting animals on this global stage is unacceptable[3]

In the end, they had to reach the compromise that the 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens, 3 sheep dogs and 9 geese that took part in the first part of the show would be removed immediately after their appearance and taken far away from the stadium so as not to distress them further, especially with the fireworks, to which, as is well-known, animals always react with fear.

This commitment to respecting animal welfare had to be signed by the artistic director of the ceremony, Danny Boyle, who wrote a letter to all of the associations that had objected and shown concern for the animals, guaranteeing that the animals would be given careful treatment: "genuine care will be taken of the animals" [4]

This has to make us think about the influence of the opinion of a nation that is concerned about and committed to animal welfare and of course aware and well informed. There are lines that must not be crossed for coherence reasons and for true commitment. All animal welfare legislation in the European Union is based on the "5 Freedoms" defined by a British Parliament Commission to guarantee minimum standards for farm, laboratory and show animals, which originated from the 1965 Brambell report, which highlighted the unsustainable situation of animals kept for intensive farming [5]

If Great Britain does not renounce its history, literature, music, performing arts, countryside and traditions, which were, more than exhibited, shown as something natural in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the same applies to animals, for whom the efforts of its legislators and scientists to define the minimum respect for a live animal have ended up impregnating the legal framework of legislation in all EU countries.

The slogan or wish of the London 2012 Olympic Games "Inspire a generation" does not exclude animals. It includes them in a natural way. So much so that in a domestic scene, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II did not go without showing her beloved Corgis Monty, Holly and Willow.

Teresa Giménez-Candela
Professor of Roman Law
Animal Law Professor
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

[1] “Royal Animals”, which contains 6 sections, the first of which refers to the royal family's pets, can be seen at The Official website of the British Monarchy.
[2] Can be seen on the aforementioned website under the heading “Animal patronages
[3] A reflection of the attitude described in this link,
[4] Cf. This information was published in The Telegraph
[5] Cf. The official website of Farm Animal Welfare Council

keys law, legal , case law , animal

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