On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Missing image
2003 Penguin Books paperback edition

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the eleventh James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, published in 1963. In 1969, it was produced as the sixth film in the James Bond movie series, and the first and only film starring George Lazenby as James Bond. Lazenby was the second official James Bond, the first having been Sean Connery. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and made by EON Productions.


The novel

Missing image
1964 paperback edition by Pan Books.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is considered the second book in what is known as the 'Blofeld Trilogy', which, resumes from Thunderball after the interlude novel The Spy Who Loved Me, and concludes with You Only Live Twice.

Plot summary

For more than a year, James Bond, British secret agent 007, has been trailing the private criminal organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld in an operation dubbed 'Operation Bedlam'. This story is partially written in The Spy Who Loved Me where Bond explains to Vivienne Michel the aftermath of 'Operation Thunderball' and the escape of Blofeld. By the time of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond is convinced S.P.E.C.T.R.E. no longer exists, and is frustrated at being unable to locate Blofeld so much so that Bond actually prepares a letter of resignation for M. Meanwhile, Bond comes across a beautiful, suicidal young woman named Teresa di Vicenzo—by thwarting her suicide drowning.

Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (or Tracy) is the daughter of Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the Union Corse, a powerful European crime syndicate. Draco believes the only way to save his daughter's life is for Bond to marry her. For that, Draco offers Bond a great dowry—as well as Blofeld's whereabouts. Bond refuses this offer, but does agree to continue to see Tracy while her mental health improves.

Draco informs Bond that Blofeld has been hiding in Switzerland and upon further investigation, Bond discovers that he has assumed the title and name Comte Balthazar de Bleuville. Blofeld has also undergone plastic surgery to physically pass as an heir of the de Bleuville bloodline—so much so that he has asked the College of Arms to declare him the reigning count. By impersonating a college representative, Sir Hilary Bray, Bond infiltrates Blofeld's lair atop Piz Gloria and finally meets Blofeld.

At Piz Gloria, Bond learns Blofeld has been using his time curing a group of young British and European women of their allergies to livestock and food phobias. In truth, however, Blofeld and his homely aide, Irma Bunt, have been brainwashing the women into carrying biological warfare agents back to Great Britain and their home countries in order to destroy Great Britain's agriculture economy, upon which post-World War II Britain is dependent.

Feeling his cover was to be soon blown, Bond escapes from Piz Gloria and encounters Tracy, who helps him escape from S.P.E.C.T.R.E.. Bond, who has become smitten with the resourceful, headstrong woman, proposes marriage and she accepts.

With the help of Draco's Union Corse men, Bond mounts a bloody, air assault battle against the clinic and Blofeld, who escapes—later exacting revenge on James and Tracy Bond moments after their wedding ceremony.


Comic strip adaptation

Ian Fleming's 1963 novel was adapted as a daily comic strip published in the British Daily Express newspaper, and syndicated worldwide. Possibly the longest James Bond novel adaptation, the strip ran for nearly a year, from June 29, 1964 to May 17, 1965. The adaptation, which revived the comic strip after a two-year hiatus, was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky; it has been reprinted by Titan Books in 2004.


The book was the first James Bond novel published after the start of the official film series. In tribute, Fleming mentions Dr. No co-star Ursula Andress by name in one chapter describing her as a beautiful movie star. Ian Fleming also pays tribute to the first official James Bond, Sean Connery, by stating that 007's surname as well as his father, was Scottish.

The film

Template:BondInfo In 1967, after five successful James Bond films, Sean Connery quit the role to pursue other film roles. In his place Albert R. Broccoli initially chose actor Timothy Dalton, however Dalton declined believing himself too young and Sean Connery too good to replace. Broccoli later chose Australian George Lazenby after Lazenby arranged an "accidental" encounter with the producer. Lazenby dressed the part, by sporting several sartorial Bond elements, such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit; Broccoli noticed him as a Bond-type man, because of physique and the character's elements, and offered him an audition.

Diana Rigg, who plays Tracy Bond, was later chosen partly because producers wanted an already established actress to play opposite the inexperienced Lazenby. Rigg starred as Emma Peel in The Avengers.

Although the film paled in comparison to previous Bond films at the box office, some aficionados consider this the best film of the James Bond series, with many critics feeling George Lazenby "nailed" the character of James Bond as described in the novels. Some fans of only the movie series, however, were disappointed by his interpretation, as it significantly diverged from Sean Connery's portrayal of the character. Others claim that his wooden acting robbed his screen relationship with Diana Rigg of any romantic chemistry.

Despite Lazenby's efforts to portray James Bond, he was uninterested in reprising the role in Diamonds Are Forever. He thought the tuxedo-clad secret agent would be archaic in the sexually liberated '70s. He was offered a seven-film contract, had signed a letter of intent to star in Diamonds Are Forever, and was even paid an initial installment of his fee (which he refunded).

Plot summary

The cinematic On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a close adaptation of the novel, but adds a few sequences, such as Bond's breaking in to a Swiss lawyer's office in Bern, Tracy's capture and rescue, etc.

The film begins with James Bond (George Lazenby) driving his Aston Martin along a coastal highway in the evening, when suddenly he is passed by a woman in a red Mercury Cougar convertible. Soon, he comes across the same car parked on the side of the road. Using a telescopic gun sight, Bond finds the driver, walking into the waves of the ocean, looking utterly lost. 007 realizes that the woman is attempting suicide, and drives down to the shore where he dashes into the surf and plucks her from the sea. He brings her back to consciousness and introduces himself as "Bond, James Bond" (simultaneously revealing his face to the camera, in much the same manner as Sean Connery's face was first shown in Dr. No). Three men then attack him from out of nowhere and separate the two, Bond being led away at gunpoint and the woman at knifepoint. In short order, Bond gains a tactical advantage on his captors and defeats them — he drowns one, traps another under a boat, and snares the third in a fishing net. Meanwhile, the woman leaps behind the wheel of Bond's car, drives it back up to where her own car awaits, jumps into her car, and speeds away. Bond comments, "This never happened to the other fellow" (the only time Bond breaks the fourth wall in the official series, although he does so on another occasion in the unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again), which leads to the title sequence.

After the title sequence, Bond checks into a hotel; in pulling up to the hotel, he spies the mysterious lady's red Cougar in front of the hotel. Inquiring about the car's owner, he is told by the manager it belongs to Countess Teresa 'Tracy' di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg). Bond finds the same woman gambling at the casino later that same night. She makes a bet she can't back up, and when she loses, it is Bond who comes to her aid, paying it for her. Tracy ends up inviting Bond up to her room to thank him for his generosity. However, when he enters her room, a thug emerges from the shadows behind him and starts a brawl with Bond. After knocking the man unconscious, Bond goes back to his room, only to find Tracy waiting for him there. After Tracy flirts with the idea to shoot him as a thrill, Bond disarms her and questions Tracy about the thug in her room. Tracy denies any knowledge of him; an unconvinced Bond slaps her across the face. Bond suggests that the presence of these men indicates that Tracy may be in trouble; Tracy has nothing to say, but does seduce Bond as payment for her debt he covered at the casino.

In the morning, she is gone (leaving full payment for her casino losses and a red rose behind) and Bond discovers she has already checked out of the hotel. Later in the morning, as Bond attempts to leave the hotel for a round of golf, Bond is kidnapped by several armed henchmen — including the thug from Tracy's hotel room — and led at gunpoint to a waiting Rolls-Royce. The henchmen bring him to a dockside office building, to the presence of Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) — the head of the Union Corse, a European crime syndicate.

Bond recognizes Draco immediately, and provides a rather complete profile of him, but Draco reveals one hidden item: Tracy — the woman Bond had rescued — is his only daughter. Draco describes Tracy as something of a problem child, but he also thinks Bond can resolve his daughter's emotional instability. Though Bond believes Tracy needs a psychiatrist, Draco insists that she needs "a man to dominate her". Draco asks James Bond to marry Tracy; in return, Bond will receive a personal dowry of one million pounds sterling — in gold — on their wedding day. Bond refuses, but agrees to see Tracy again — at Draco's birthday party — under an agreement that Draco provide the whereabouts of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas), the head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E..

Bond returns to MI6 headquarters, where M informs him he is relieved of Operation Bedlam (tracking down and eliminating Blofeld). Angered at the slight — Bond considered Blofeld a "must" (i.e., a must capture) — Bond dictates a letter of resignation to Miss Moneypenny and returns to his desk to clear out his keepsakes. After being called back into M's office, he is briskly informed his request is granted. Upon exiting M's office, he discovers that Moneypenny has re-worded his letter of resignation — knowing Bond didn't really mean it — and what M granted instead was a request for two weeks of leave. Bond realizes that he can take up the Blofeld matter on his time-off and not quit MI6; thanking Moneypenny for her intervention, he heads for Draco's birthday party.

At Draco's birthday party, Tracy discovers Bond's deal with her father and strong-arms Draco into providing the information Bond requested. Draco informs Bond that several of his Union Corse men recently defected to Blofeld, and that the connection is Gebrüder Gumbold, a lawyer in Bern, Switzerland. Distraught, Tracy runs away in tears; Bond catches up with her and wipes the tears from her eyes. Bond and Tracy begin a whirlwind romance, backed by Louis Armstrong's song We have all the time in the world."

Bond and Tracy, whom are both developing strong feelings for one another, go to Bern along with Draco to investigate Gumbold. Searching the lawyer's office, Bond finds Blofeld's correspondence with the College of Arms: Blofeld is attempting to lay claim to the title 'Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp' with Bleuchamp being the French form of the Blofeld surname. His College of Arms correspondent is Sir Hilary Bray, a genealogist at the College. This discovery provides enough of a solid lead that Bond visits M at his home and is granted permission to go after Blofeld.

Bond then poses as Bray so he may visit Blofeld, under pretense of verifying the genealogical and physical characteristics of de Bleuchamp ancestry. Blofeld has established a clinical research institute atop Piz Gloria, an alp in Switzerland. Undercover as the effete, foppish Bray (during this impersonation, the voice of George Baker who played Bray was dubbed), Bond meets ten beautiful young women from around the world. They are patients of the institute's clinic, ostensibly undergoing unorthodox psychological and immunological allergy treatments. In reality, the women are unknowingly being brainwashed to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout their parts of the world and use them at Blofeld's command.

Bond's lasciviousness exposes his true identity to Blofeld henchwoman Irma Bunt, who surprises Bond in the bed of one of Blofeld's "patients" and captures him. Blofeld advises Bond that his amorous escapades have revealed his true identity; he also informs Bond of a blunder that Blofield claims the the real Hilary Bray would not have made (Bond misinterpreted one of Sir Hilary Bray's comments and identified the wrong church as the repository of Bleuchamp birth records). Bond escapes his imprisonment in the cable-car machinery room of Piz Gloria, viciously subdues a guard, then escapes from Piz Gloria by skiing down the mountain. Unfortunately, Bond is spotted as he leaves and is chased by Blofeld and his henchmen. He eventually makes his way into the village of Mürren, during its winter festival, and there encounters Tracy, who is in Switzerland trying to find Bond (having learned Bond's whereabouts from her father). Tracy acquits herself very well in helping Bond escape his pursuers, which greatly impresses Bond, and together they flee in her Cougar. They finally evade their pursuers in a frantic car chase which ends (for their pursuers) during an ice-track auto race. A blizzard forces them into a remote barn, where Bond declares his love for Tracy and proposes to her; she accepts. Next morning they ski down the mountainside, but Blofeld has tracked them down and causes an avalanche, deliberately sacrificing some of his own men. This succeeds in incapacitating Bond, and capturing Tracy.

Meanwhile, Blofeld is holding the world for ransom with his threat to destroy the world's agriculture via his brainwashed patients releasing his bacteriological agents — which are targeted for vital types of livestock and plants. His price is amnesty for his past crimes and award of the 'Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp' title. M's hands are tied in allowing Bond to lead an MI6 operation to raid Piz Gloria, as it is deemed too risky by the Prime Minister. As Bond realizes that, without the radio complex at Piz Gloria to signal his patients, Blofeld's plan will fail, Bond contacts Draco at Draco Construction to arrange a "demolition job" on Piz Gloria. Bond returns with Draco and his Union Corse henchmen in a mercenary helicopter assault to destroy the institute, save Tracy, and stop Blofeld's blackmail.

The raid is successful, and Bond and Blofeld are the last to escape before the institute is blown apart by Draco's assault team. The two men engage in a furious bobsled chase down the mountain, with Bond leaping onto Blofeld's bobsled after Blofeld destroys Bond's bobsled with a hand grenade. In the hand-to-hand fight which ensues, a preoccupied Blofeld ends up being caught by his neck in overhanging branches, ripping him out of the bobsled and apparently killing him. Bond loses control of the bobsled, which flies out of the bobsled run, but Bond survives unscathed.

Bond and Tracy marry in Portugal, with Draco's men and M, Q and a tearful Miss Moneypenny present. (During the best man's toast, Bond wipes the tears from Tracy's eyes in the exact same manner as he had at Draco's birthday party.) They drive off in Bond's Aston Martin, but the couple stops on the roadside a few kilometers later so he can remove the flower decorations from their wedding. As Bond and Tracy exchange sweet nothings, a black Mercedes sedan — carrying Blofeld in a neck brace — drives past; his henchwoman Irma Bunt leans out of a window of the speeding car and shoots Tracy through the head, killing her. A policeman on a motorbike finds Bond cradling his wife's head, and a grief-stricken Bond — fingering Tracy's wedding band — tells him, "We have all the time in the world". (This phrase was later reproduced as the epitaph on the headstone of Tracy's grave in the opening teaser of For Your Eyes Only (1981), in which Bond finally exacts revenge on Blofeld for Tracy's murder.)

Cast & characters



Missing image
Original On Her Majesty's Secret Service soundtrack cover

Once again, the soundtrack to this James Bond adventure was composed, arranged, and conducted by John Barry, who, until Diamonds Are Forever, had worked on every preceding Bond film. The opening theme proved difficult to compose, as James Bond movie theme songs usually are eponymous, and include the film's title in the lyrics, keyed to be sung when it appears on screen. (Currently, the only exception is "All Time High", the theme song to Octopussy.) John Barry felt it would be difficult to compose a theme song containing the words On Her Majesty's Secret Service unless it was done in the operatic style of Gilbert and Sullivan, so, he convinced director Peter R. Hunt to allow an instrumental opening credits theme. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was also used within the film as an alternate action theme to Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" in a similar role to Barry's previous "007" theme. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was remixed in 1997 by the Propellerheads and was featured as a theme in the trailers for the 2004 Pixar animated film The Incredibles.

The love song "We Have All the Time in the World", sung by Louis Armstrong is heard during the Bond–Tracy courtship montage, bridging Draco's birthday party in Portugal and Bond's break-in to Gebrüder Gumbold's law office in Switzerland. "We Have All the Time in the World" often is mistakenly referred to as the opening credits theme.

Track listing

  1. We Have All the Time in the World
  2. This Never Happened to the Other Feller
  3. Try
  4. Ski Chase
  5. Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?
  6. Main Theme—On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  7. Journey to Blofeld's Hideaway
  8. We Have All the Time in the World
  9. Over and Out
  10. Battle at Piz Gloria
  11. We Have All the Time in the World—James Bond Theme
  12. Journey to Draco's Hideaway
  13. Bond and Draco
  14. Gumbold's Safe
  15. Bond Settles In
  16. Bond Meets The Girls
  17. Dusk at Piz Gloria
  18. Sir Hillary's Night Out (Who Will Buy My Yesterdays?)
  19. Blofeld's Plot
  20. Escape From Piz Gloria
  21. Bobsled Chase

Vehicles & gadgets

Main articles: List of James Bond vehicles, List of James Bond gadgets
  • Aston Martin DBS - This car is seen in the movie in four scenes: in the pre-credits teaser, outside Bond's hotel, briefly outside a jeweler's shop, and as Bond & Tracy's wedding car. Nothing is known about what kind of gadgets are installed, except for a rifle with a telescopic sight mounted in the glovebox. Obviously, given what happens at the end, it does not have bulletproof glass.
  • Radioactive Lint - In the beginning of the story, Q is showing M a homing device made of radioactive lint: "When placed in a person's pocket, the anti-personnel and location fix seems fairly obvious." M is more concerned with a location fix of 007. Reportedly, director Peter Hunt has a disdain for the multiple gadgets of previous films, so the creation of the seemingly silly radioactive lint (coupled with a lack of gadgets in the film otherwise) is seen as his response to this. Ironically, the concept of radioactive lint actually makes it one of the more practical of all James Bond film gadgets.
  • Safecracker - A small (for its time) device consisting of a flexible cable ending in a grapple meant to be fitted on a typical safe combination lock. The machine would then examine the lock, figure its combination, and open the safe. Additionally, the safecracker has an integral photocopier, to copy secret documents, and minimize the chance of the owner's learning of the break-in if the documents went missing.


Film locations

Shooting locations


  • For insurance reasons Lazenby was not allowed any of the skiing in the film: he did sneak skiing, and once ended skiing underneath the cable car, which was, coincidentally, taking Broccoli up to Piz Gloria.
  • Although some scoffed at burly Telly Savalas as a robust Ernst Stavro Blofeld—in sharp contrast with the subdued portrayal of the villain by Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice—Fleming's novels established that Blofeld could substantially alter his appearance and change his demeanor. Therefore, the change in actor for each of Blofeld's appearances in the series, is in keeping with the James Bond literary canon.
  • The film contains the worst continuity error in the history of the Bond film series, in that Blofeld fails to recognize the lightly-disguised Bond when they meet again. Although both characters are played by different actors, they had met in the previous film, You Only Live Twice. Since the order of the movie adventures is the reverse of the novels, On Her Majesty's Secret Service marks the enemies' first confrontation in the novel series. This error originated in abandoned plans to open On Her Majesty's Secret Service with Bond undergoing plastic surgery to hide from his enemies (his faked death in Japan, in the previous adventure, having been unsuccessful). The intention was to help the audience accept the new in actor in the role, and so allow an unrecognizable Bond to infiltrate Blofeld's hideout.
  • The building used for Blofeld's clinic, Piz Gloria, is a restaurant, atop the Schilthorn in the Bernese Oberland, and the only public access is by cable car (from Mürren or Stechelberg). As the owner had run out of money, it was unfinished when the filmmakers were seeking locations. EON Productions paid to finish it in return for exclusive use of the property during filming.
  • The Goldfinger title song sung by Shirley Bassey made a small cameo in On Her Majesty's Secret Service when a janitor whistles the tune in Draco Construction's offices. There are other homages to previous Bond adventures including items and themes used during a scene in which Bond thinking he'd resigned from MI6 was cleaning out his desk.
  • Originally, there was a scene wherein James Bond chased and killed a S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent spying his meeting with Sir Hillary Bray. The scene was cut, reportedly, because it was considered too violent.
  • For a large portion of the film Lazenby's voice was dubbed by the actor George Baker who played the part of Bray.
  • Since George Lazenby was a virtual unknown, initial teaser advertising for the film emphasized the Bond character rather than the actor playing him. Several ads, in fact, utilized an image of a "faceless" Bond. The production company later admitted that the "faceless" advertising campaign was a mistake, and blamed it for the movie's (relative) commercial failure.
  • Production of OHMSS was delayed twice. It was originally to have followed Goldfinger, and early prints of that film even announced this. Later, it was earmarked to follow Thunderball but ultimately ended up following You Only Live Twice.
  • Diana Rigg was more than a year older than her leading man, one of only a couple of occasions in which a Bond girl was older than Bond (the other occasion involved Honor Blackman being several years older than her Goldfinger co-star, Sean Connery).

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