Queen's Baton Relay
The Queen's Baton Relay is a relay around the world held prior to the beginning of the Commonwealth Games. The Baton carries a message from the Head of the Commonwealth, currently King Charles III. The Relay traditionally begins at Buckingham Palace in London as a part of the city's Commonwealth Day festivities. The Queen entrusts the baton to the first relay runner. At the Opening Ceremony of the Games, the final relay runner hands the baton back to the Queen or her representative, who reads the message aloud to officially open the Games. The Queen's Baton Relay is similar to the Olympic Torch Relay. As a result of the Queen's death on 8 September 2022, the Baton Relay could be renamed after her successor King Charles III for the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia.
At the inaugural games, held in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, a message from King George V was read to the competitors. In 1936, Australian runner Rowley Bateman proposed a relay from Canberra to Sydney carrying a goodwill message for the 1938 Sydney games. A baton relay from Mountain Ash to Pontypridd to commemorate the centenary of the Welsh national anthem was organised in 1956 by athletics official Bernard Baldwin, who proposed something similar for the finale of the Commonwealth Games. Baldwin later founded the traditional New Year's Eve race 'Nos Galan' in Mountain Ash.
The Relay has been involved in every games since the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. The Relay for the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was the first to incorporate a more expansive relay to other nations of the Commonwealth. The 2002 Commonwealth Games Relay covered over 100,000 kilometres (60,000 miles) and went through 23 nations.
|1958||The 1958 silver-gilt and enamel baton was designed by Cardiff jeweller and former soldier, Colonel Roy Crouch, Chairman of the Games’ Medals Committee. Measuring 40cm (15") in length and 4cm (1½") in diameter, it was decorated with Welsh national symbols, namely a red dragon, daffodils and leeks, along with crowns representing the royal connection.
On 14 July 1958, the baton relay set off from the forecourt of London’s Buckingham Palace, the residence of Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, before travelling through several English counties and all thirteen Welsh on its journey to Cardiff.
|1990||For the 1990 Commonwealth Games, the baton was a two-piece affair. Each piece went on its own individual relay run in the North and South Islands of New Zealand, only being joined back together in the final week before the Games began.|
|1994||For the 1994 Commonwealth Games, the Baton was fashioned from sterling silver and was engraved with traditional symbols of the creative artists' families and cultures, including a wolf, a raven and an eagle with a frog in its mouth.|
|1998||For the 1998 Commonwealth Games, Malaysia gave their own flavour to the Games. On opening ceremony night the Queen's Baton began its journey to the stadium by elephan. The baton was presented to Prince Edward by Malaysia's 1950 Commonwealth weightlifting gold medallist Koh Eng Tong. The Baton design was inspired by a traditional Malay artifact, the 'Gobek', which is a unique cylindrical areca nut-pounder widely used and displayed in Malay homes. The baton was produced by a local company, Mariwasa Kraftangan Sdn Bhd, using pure silver with gold trimming. It left the Buckingham palace on 9 March 1998.|
|2002||The 2002 Queen's Baton Relay (also known as Queen's Jubilee Baton Relay) was launched on Commonwealth Day, 11 March 2002, on the historic forecourt at Buckingham Palace. The baton traveled almost 59,000 miles via 23 commonwealth nations and territories over 87 days before opening the games on 25 July 2002. Cadbury was the presenting partner of the relay and sponsor of the games.
The Baton was designed by a company called IDEO and was constructed of machined aluminium with the handle plated for conductivity. It weighed 1.69 kg (3¾ lb), reaches over 710 mm (28"), and is 42.5 mm to 85 mm (1¾" to 3¾") in diameter. The Queen's message itself was held in an aluminium capsule inserted into the top of the Baton. On either side of the Baton were two sterling silver coins, designed by Mappin and Webb, which celebrated the City of Manchester as host of the XVII Commonwealth Games. It arrived at the City of Manchester Stadium carried by Aerialist Lindsey Butcher who descended to pass the baton to heptathon champion Denise Lewis. The baton was eventually presented to the Queen by David Beckham accompanied by Kirsty Howard who had been born with a rare heart condition.
|2006||The 2006 Queen's Baton Relay was the world's longest, most inclusive relay, travelling more than 180,000 kilometres (120,000 miles) and visiting all 71 nations that then sent teams to the Commonwealth Games[a] in one year and a day. The Queen's Baton Relay started, as it traditionally does, at Buckingham Palace and ended in Melbourne, Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It carried a message from the Queen to the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. Fremantle Dockers Captain Matthew Pavlich carried the baton through Fremantle, he received the baton from community nominee and local businessman Peter Taliangis.
The baton contained 71 lights on the front, representing the 71 member nations of the Commonwealth Games Federation. A video camera built into the front of the baton recorded continuously as the baton travelled, and a GPS tracker was fitted, so that the baton's location could be viewed live on the Commonwealth Games Website. The front face of the baton contained the detachable Queen's Message Button. The Button is a digital storage device, onto which the Queen's Message to the Athletes of the XVIII Commonwealth Games was encoded.
The baton was designed by Michael Foley, a graduate of the National Institute of Design. Made from aluminium twisted into a helix, it was coated with soils from the various regions of India, and held the Queen's message (printed on an 18 carat gold leaf, representing gold's qualities and symbolism of power in India) within a jeweled box. The baton also incorporated a video camera and microphone, LED lighting (which set its color scheme to match the flag of the nation it was travelling through), and GPS tracking.
The product design consultancy awarded the contract to the design of the 2014 Queen's Baton is a local Glasgow company called 4c Design. 4c Design wanted the 2014 baton to be true to the original intentions of the first relay and so wanted to focus the design around the Queen's handwritten message. Also rather than using cutting edge electronics, they choose to focus on cutting edge manufacturing. This all culminated in the Queen's message being internally illuminated to hint at the secret within, then surrounded by a titanium lattice framework that was grown using the latest additive manufacturing technology. At the top is a puzzle mechanism that dispenses granite gemstones to each of the Commonwealth nations and territories the baton visits, inviting them to join Glasgow at the Games. The puzzle mechanism also has a second function of keeping the message safely locked away until the opening ceremony, where the second stage of the puzzle will be unveiled. The handle of the Queen's Baton is made of Elm wood which came from the Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland. The Elm tree was felled by a local man called David Stevenson in the grounds of the Garrison House and the baton itself is crafted using an old boat building technique called bird mouthing.
The baton for the Gold Coast 2018 was designed by Brisbane-based company Designworks to reflect the local culture and life of Queensland. Designed for each Games by the host nation, the 2018 Queen's Baton has been made using macadamia wood and reclaimed plastic, sourced from Gold Coast waterways, and inspired by the region's vibrant spirit and indigenous heritage.
Final Baton Runners
- At that time, the Commonwealth of Nations had 53 members (the current total is 54 after Rwanda's entry in 2009). However, the four Home Nations send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games, as do individual British Crown Dependencies, several British overseas territories, the Australian external territory of Norfolk Island, and two non-sovereign states in free association with New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Niue.
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- CWG 2010 Queen's baton arrives in India CWG 2010 Queen's baton arrives in India Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
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- Queen’s Baton Relay History Timeline
- Official website of 2014 Queen's Baton Relay
- BBC Coverage of 2014 Queen's Baton Relay
- 2014 Queen's Baton Designers
- Official website of 2010 Queen's Baton Relay
- Official website of 2006 Queen's Baton Relay
- Queen's Baton Relay on New Zealand Commonwealth Games website
- "Queen's Baton Relay" on Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games website