Queen back at Buckingham Palace to launch Commonwealth Games baton relay

The Queen has launched the baton relay for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

She handed it over at Buckingham Palace and will receive it again in Birmingham when the Games begin on July 28.

Between now and then, the baton will be passed through all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

It’s the biggest event the Queen has attended at Buckingham Palace since she left London in March 2020 as the pandemic started to spread throughout the UK.

On a dais in the forecourt of the palace, the Queen placed a message inside the baton.

The message will be read out in full at the opening ceremony next year.

It will take 294 days for the baton to be carried around the Commonwealth and will travel 90,000 miles – half the distance of previous batons in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

The first baton bearer, as they are known, is the British double Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox.

She took it from the Queen, who was accompanied by her son Prince Edward, and passed it to Team England squash player Declan James and  Team Wales boxer Lauren Price.

The pair took it round the Queen Victoria Memorial and down the Mall, passing it to other baton bearers from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The baton will next be seen at Birmingham Airport before it departs for the first overseas stop – Cyprus – on Saturday.

For more royal news and analysis, listen to our Royal Rota podcast

It will later pass through all 19 African countries of the Commonwealth and make its way through the Seychelles, Pakistan, Singapore, various Pacific islands, New Zealand and Australia, and then the Caribbean and Canada.

The final leg will be in the four home nations of the United Kingdom.

This baton – which was designed and built in the West Midlands - includes a camera, heart rate monitor and LED lighting.

Youngsters carry flags representing the Commonwealth countries at Thursday's event. Credit: PA

As the Games coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – 70 years of her reign - the baton also includes a platinum strand.

The Queen and The Earl of Wessex are Patron and Vice-Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

The Commonwealth Games is one of the biggest multi-sport events in the world.

There are 54 members of the Commonwealth which, between them, represent a third of the world’s population.