The Olympic torch attracted thousands as it toured the grounds of Hampton Court Palace on the final day of the torch relay.

Olympic medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent had a starring role, carrying the flame high through the majestic West Gate entrance of the palace.

The buzzing crowds lining the riverside went wild with excitement when they got their first glimpse of the flame emerging from the inside the palace walls.

Sir Matthew said it was very difficult to compare his role carrying the torch with his role in previous games as an Olympic rower.

The Chiswick resident said: “There wasn’t an awful lot of preparation involved with my role in the torch relay, but it’s still an important day for London and to be a part of that is very special."

He said: “It’s certainly a great place to start, on the river, and such a fantastic opportunity.”

His wife Demetra, 38, speaking before he appeared with the torch, said: “I’m really proud of him, it’s a really special moment for him and he’s been looking forward to this for years - having the Olympics in London.

“The only thing that worries me is he’s going to want to jump back in to the boat when he sees it.”

Their son Lucas, six, wore a special Olympic outfit for the occasion and said he wanted to win more medals that his daddy when he grew up.

Sir Matthew used his flame to light a ceremonial cauldron on royal row barge the Gloriana, which was named by the Queen as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations.

Before his leg, the torch began its 70th day at the Teddington gate of Bushy Park, before heading round the palace maze and historical gardens.

Tracey Adins, who watched the torch travel through Kingston days before said: “We were one of the fist here but ended up right at the back.

“It was great though, and much busier than Kingston.”

Lewis Skinner, nine, said his favourite moment was seeing the Gloriana, but his friend Hadley Perez, nine, disagreed and said his two-second appearance on Daybreak, who were filming events, was the best part of the whole day.