Queen's Baton Relay at the Commonwealth Games
The Queen’s Baton Relay is one of the great traditions of the Commonwealth Games, having started at the Games in Cardiff, Wales, in 1958. The Baton is now as much a part of the Commonwealth Games tradition as the torch is part of the Olympics.
The relay traditionally begins with a commencement ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London, which coincides with the city’s Commonwealth Day festivities. There Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II entrusts the baton containing Her ‘message to the athletes’ to the first honorary relay runner. The relay concludes at the Opening Ceremony, as the final relay runner hands the baton back to Her Majesty, or Her representative, and the message is read aloud. At that moment the Games begin.
The Kuala Lumpur 1998 Queen’s Baton Relay was the first to deliver the relay to other nations of the Commonwealth, besides England and the host country. In Melbourne, the Queen’s Baton will have traveled 16,936km from Buckingham Palace through the Commonwealth, before traveling around Australia on its journey to the MCG. This relay is the world’s longest, most inclusive relay, traveling more than 180,000 kilometers and visiting all 71 nations of the Commonwealth in one year and a day.
For each Games, the host country designs a unique Baton. Here are descriptions of a few designs.
1994 (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 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 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) 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.
2002 (Manchester, England) The baton has special significance as it marks the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen and was designed to symbolize the uniqueness of the individual and the common rhythm of humanity.
2010 (Delhi, India) The Queen's Baton for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is a delicate mix of aesthetics and technology with an in-built location tracking system and a camera capable of sending images to the Games website. When it reaches New Delhi for the October 3 opening ceremony, it would have traveled over 190,000 kilometers in 340 days.
Malaysia placed their own flavor on the Games, with the Queens Baton being carried into the stadium on an elephant. The baton was presented to Prince Edward by Malaysias first ever Commonwealth medal winner Koh Eng Tong, a bronze medalist in weight lifting in 1954. The 1998 XVI Commonwealth Games Queen's Relay Baton's design was inspired from a traditional Malay artifact, the 'Gobek' – a unique cylindrical areca nut-pounder widely used and displayed in Malay homes.
The baton has traditionally contained the message from the Queen to the athletes. For the 2006 Games in Melbourne, the 'Queen's message' was actually stored on a memory chip attached to the baton.