The London 2012 Paralympic Games has opened with a dramatic and moving ceremony.
The event held starring roles for the Queen, Professor Stephen Hawking and a double amputee Afghan war veteran who rode a zip wire into the Olympic Stadium.
A "spectacular and deeply human" ceremony featured thousands of entertainers and athletes from across the world, all with their own special stories to tell.
The ceremony included a sign language choir performing the national anthem and a section in which six Paralympians led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson were flown into the stadium in gold wheelchairs.
The event marked the start of 11 days of elite sporting action featuring athletes from across the world and before sell-out crowds who have made this the most successful Paralympic Games in history.
Professor Hawking and actor Sir Ian McKellen played prominent roles in the opening ceremony, which also featured a host of deaf and disabled artists, local children and performers newly-trained in circus skills.
The Games were officially opened by the Queen, who said in a statement released in advance: "It is with tremendous pride that the people of London and the United Kingdom welcome the world to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
"The Games are returning to the country where they first began, more than 60 years ago.
"We look forward to celebrating the uplifting spirit which distinguishes the Paralympic Games from other events, drawing on Britain's unique sporting heritage."