Well. It’s arrived. After travelling 230,000 kilometers in 388 days and crossing all six Commonwealth regions, the Queen’s Baton made it in time for the opening ceremony of this year’s Commonwealth Games, which were officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales on April 4th.
The baton left Buckingham Palace last year – on March 13, 2017- and this year’s Relay was the longest Queen’s Baton Relay in history.
Such a simple concept – essentially handing a length of metal tubing from one person to the next – attracts huge amounts of interest and every community that has had a hand on it along the way have turned out in force to cheer it on – as well as the local residents chosen to carry it. Each person has his or her own story to tell and it’s this aspect that perhaps provides a clue to its popularity.
Elite athletes may be taking part in the Games but it’s the ordinary people of every Commonwealth country who have had a hand in getting the baton to the Games. And these countries are located right around the world, including Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
Each host nation is entitled to change the design of the baton. This year’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’. (We’re not sure where reclaimed plastic fits into Australia’s indigenous heritage but we’re not there so can’t comment any further).
The Relay was first introduced at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. Up until the 1994 Games, it only went through England and the host nation and it wasn’t until the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that it travelled to the other Commonwealth nations.
Officially, the Baton carries a message from the Head of the Commonwealth ‘to the Commonwealth and its athletes’. We think it’s more likely to say, ‘don’t drop me’.