Queen launches Commonwealth Games baton on 90,000-mile global journey

·3-min read
The Queen with Kadeena Cox (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
The Queen with Kadeena Cox (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

The Queen took the first symbolic step to marking next year’s Commonwealth Games on Thursday when she started the baton relay at Buckingham Palace.

It is the emblem of the games which will be held in Birmingham, and will travel all round the world.

The hi-tech baton will film participants, measure pollution and even show the baton bearers’ heartbeats.

But the Queen’s message contained within it won’t be revealed until the start of the games next summer.

The launch of the relay took place in a ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s first major public engagement at the palace since the pandemic began.

For the occasion the Queen wore an Angela Kelly orange coat, with a flared wool print dress in shades of apple, olive and orange, and a matching orange hat. She also wore the large Nizam of Hyderabad diamond rose brooch.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

The relay of 7,500 bearers will take the baton on a 90,000-mile journey to all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth over 294 days.

The message will be read at the opening ceremony of the Games in Birmingham on July 28 2022.

Before appearing on the forecourt the Queen - patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation - had a private meeting with Dame Louise Martin, president of the Federation, and John Crabtree, chair of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

After the Queen appeared in the State Bentley she was joined by the Earl of Wessex, vice patron of the Federation, to be introduced to the baton designers.

They were: Karl Hamlin, Director of Kajul, Tom Osman, Director of Raymond-Osman Product Design, Laura Nyahuye, Artist and CEO at Maokwo, and Karen Newman, Director of BOM (Birmingham Open Media).

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Once she was on the stage her message was brought out by Haseebah Abdullah, the Queen’s message bearer.

Abdullah, 27, who started boxing at the Windmill Boxing Club in Smethwick, West Midlands, is the first hijab-wearing boxing coach in England.

She is one of the “home town heroes”, inspirational figures from grass roots sport across the West Midlands who have been chosen to represent the Games.

The baton has been described by its makers as the “first true smart baton”.

It features a 360-degree camera, a monitor that displays the heartbeats of bearers, LED lighting, GPS tracking and has “lungs” – atmospheric sensors which use laser technology to analyse the environmental conditions wherever it is in the world – while its “brain” will record and transmit imagery and digital information.

Double Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox carries the baton (AFP via Getty Images)
Double Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox carries the baton (AFP via Getty Images)

There is also feminist inspiration behind its design. In a film about the baton Tom Osman said: “We were all sat around in that meeting room sketching and designing, and one of the young artists… just said, these are all for men. That was a watershed moment in the design.”

Laura Nyahuye said: “It reminded me of how I see the Queen. She’s a fellow woman, she’s a grandma, she’s a mother.”

The guests included Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Scotland, and sports minister Nigel Huddleston.

Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox carried the baton on the first leg of its journey, a short jog of just a few yards to the palace gates and then around the Queen Victoria Memorial. There she handed it over to Team England squash player Declan James and Olympic Gold medal winning Team Wales boxer Lauren Price, who took it down the Mall.

Other baton bearers include athletes from Team England, para swimmer Alice Tai MBE and artistic gymnast Alice Kinsella, Team Scotland hockey player Sarah Robertson, and Team Northern Ireland cyclist Mark Downey.

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