Queen Elizabeth II opens colonnade at Sydney Opera House

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II opened a new colonnade at the Sydney Opera House on Monday, more than three decades after she formally opened the landmark building.

Thousands of people surrounded the opera house and sat on its steps in warm sunshine as the queen, wearing a lime green dress and jacket with matching hat, arrived.

The queen opened the Western Colonnade, which runs along the side of the building, allowing light to flood in and giving people visiting the Opera House views of Sydney Harbor.

The 45-meter (150-foot) walkway is the first new addition to the building's exterior since it was completed in 1973 and was designed by the Opera House's Danish architect Joern Utzon.

"It confirms that the Opera House is not something sacred but a living structure, a vibrant and evolving place that meets the needs of its users and reflects the wishes of the people," the queen said.

Utzon left the project in 1966 amid bitter disputes with local authorities and cost blowouts and has never returned to Australia to see the finished building, which is recognized as his masterpiece and one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century.

Utzon's son Jan was on hand to see official opening. He said his father was now too old to make the long flight to Australia for Monday's opening.

"My father lives and breathes the Opera House and as its creator, he only needs to close his eyes to be here," he said. "But he feels great joy and takes much pleasure from the opening here today by her majesty, the queen," reports the AP.

I.L.