Her Majesty The Queen launched the Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton Relay on its global journey today (Wednesday 9 October) in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace attended by some of Scotland's greatest athletes, inspirational young people and senior representatives from across the Commonwealth.
Accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen placed Her message calling the athletes of the Commonwealth to next summer's Games inside a baton specially crafted in Scotland which will now travel to the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth before being opened at the Opening Ceremony.
HRH Prince Imran, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation and Lord Smith, Chairman of the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, took part in the ceremony, which also included a special performance from world-renowned classical violinist, Nicola Benedetti.
Sprint legend Allan Wells, winner of two Commonwealth Gold medals and the 100m Olympic title at the 1980 Olympic Games, was the first athlete to receive the baton, joined by honorary batonbearer Monica Dzonzi, UNICEF youth ambassador from Malawi.
They were then supported by further batonbearers from Team Scotland: Olympic swimmer and double Commonwealth Gold medallist Caitlin McLatchey; Gymnast and Olympic Bronze medallist Daniel Purvis; Team Scotland gymnast Cara Kennedy; Team Scotland triple jumper Morgan McKinnon; Scottish Junior swimmer Ruairi Kirkwood.
Joining the athletes were Glasgow 2014’s first selected Games-time volunteer, known as Clyde-siders, Izzy Conway; Glasgow 2014 Tartan designer Aamir Mehmood; former Scotland's Strongest Man Gregor Edmunds; passionate advocate for Para-Sport at Glasgow 2014 Julie McElroy; Glasgow 2014 Mascot designer Beth Gilmour and the Official Glasgow 2014 Mascot Clyde.
Seventy young people chosen by UNICEF UK, the world’s leading children's organisation and international charity partner of the Games, carried flags from the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.
Crowds gathered outside the Palace as the celebrations began when Sir Chris Hoy, six-time Gold Olympian, double Commonwealth champion and UNICEF UK ambassador, was the Baton's special escort as it made the processional journey to the ceremony accompanied by the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and Pipes and Drums 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (Royal Scots Borderers).
Senior representatives of Glasgow 2014 Games Partners including First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council and Michael Cavanagh, Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland also attended.
The Queen’s Baton Relay is the world’s most engaging relay, a special tradition of the Games that unites the two billion citizens of the Commonwealth in a celebration of sport, diversity and peace.
It is a unique and dynamic opportunity for Glasgow and Scotland to connect with all of nations and territories of the Commonwealth, sharing the excitement and opportunities of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games as well as our culture, creativity and enterprise.
The baton returns to Scotland tomorrow where, in Stirling, the Scottish route and details of the recruitment of the 4,000 Scottish Batonbearers required will be revealed.
Later that day the baton will depart Scotland for Delhi – host city of the 2010 Commonwealth Games – from where it will visit EVERY nation and territory of the Commonwealth, before travelling the length and breadth of Scotland on the way to its final destination – the Opening Ceremony.
Over 248 days and 190,000km the baton will visit all the nations and territories of the Commonwealth and be the first baton ever to visit Rwanda.
The international journey of the baton will be captured by global adventurer Mark Beaumont who will report for The One Show, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Scotland, along with BBC News outlets, and online.
This is the first formal moment for the Baton, a unique object specially-designed for Glasgow 2014 in Scotland. The titanium, wood and granite creation symbolises Glasgow and Scotland’s culture, history and innovation by combining leading-edge technology with traditional skills and craft.
Commenting on today's special moment, Lord Smith of Kelvin, Glasgow 2014 Chairman, said:
"It has been a hugely significant day for the Games and a real honour to be part of the ceremony at Buckingham Palace. It was not just a celebration of the baton but of the young people of the Commonwealth and it was a pleasure to have so many of them take part."
CGF President, HRH Prince Imran, said:
“Everyone loves the Queen’s Baton Relay, especially children. It brings with it a little of the excitement of the Games, and the unique magic of the Queen’s message. The Glasgow 2014 baton is a particularly fine design, one which reflects the wonderful creativity of the Scottish people and the natural beauty of Scotland. Wherever it goes it will also provide an excuse for a cracking ceilidh!”
First Minister, Alex Salmond, said:
“The countdown to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has truly begun with today’s launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay.
“Scotland is gearing up for 2014 and is organising what we hope will be the greatest Games ever and the QBR gives us an opportunity to send an invitation out to the Commonwealth’s 70 nations to travel to Scotland and join us in what will be a fantastic year of celebrations.
“The QBR will play an important role in making the Games a success, travelling 190,000km during a 248-day journey that will showcase Scotland on the global stage and extend the hand of friendship to the two billion citizens of the Commonwealth.
“And when it returns to Scotland, the baton - beautifully crafted from Ailsa Craig granite and inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh – will build on the excitement and momentum we’re currently experiencing around these Games, through visiting communities the length and breadth of the country, celebrating local heroes and success on its way to the Opening Ceremony.”
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said:
"Today's was a truly momentous day for Glasgow as the Queen’s Baton Relay began its epic journey, taking Her Majesty's message to the athletes and the Commonwealth. We are now getting closer and closer to the tantalising prospect of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Queen’s Baton will tomorrow go to Glasgow before heading around the Commonwealth, building up anticipation for what will be a fantastic event in the city next year."
Michael Cavanagh, Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said:
“The beginning of the Queen’s Baton Relay is a significant milestone ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games for athletes around the world.
“Team Scotland is proud to be the host CGA for the relay in Scotland, and I am delighted that six of our athletes have been able to take part in the ceremony today. Having Allan Wells as the first batonbearer is a great reminder of the last Scottish Games in 1986, while we have also seen our current generation and potential stars of the future running with the baton today.”
Glasgow 2014 and UNICEF ambassador, Sir Chris Hoy, said:
“It was very exciting to be involved right at the start of the batons thrilling global journey. The baton is going to be hosted and carried by children and young people in many Commonwealth countries and I hope this will draw attention to the fantastic partnership between UNICEF and the Glasgow 2014 Games, which aims to use the power of sport to transform children's lives around the globe."
Olympic and Commonwealth legend Allan Wells, MBE said:
"As the final runner of the Queen's Baton Relay at the last Games on Scottish soil in Edinburgh in 1986, it has been a real honour for me to receive the baton from Her Majesty the Queen and to be the first Batonbearer for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“To be involved in the ceremony at Buckingham Palace and to see the baton begin its journey is hugely exciting and I know that everyone who comes into contact with it over the next few months will be caught up in that excitement ahead of the Games."
UNICEF youth ambassador Monica Dzonzi said:
"I am so honoured to have taken part in sending off the baton from Buckingham Palace today. A few years ago UNICEF helped give me a future, and now I urge everyone to support the partnership with Glasgow 2014, as it really has the potential to save a great many young lives.”
Batonbearer, Scottish gymnast and Olympic bronze medallist, Dan Purvis said:
“The Queen’s Baton Relay is a huge part of the Commonwealth Games and it is an honour to have been one of the first people to run with it.
“The baton will travel round the world, and it is really exciting to think that when we see it again in Scotland we’ll be just 40 days away from the start of the Games. As it makes its way round the country I hope as many people as possible get the chance to see it, and I am sure it will inspire the nation to get behind Team Scotland.”
World-renowned classical violinist, Nicola Benedetti said:
"It was such a joy to be asked to play at Buckingham Palace as the Baton begins its journey around the Commonwealth. The Queen’s Baton Relay will present once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for thousands and thousands of people in the coming months and touch so many people’s lives. Given how much excitement there already is for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, I can’t imagine what it will be like by the time the baton begins its journey round Scotland.”
The baton will be relayed on its journey by Emirates, the Official Airline of the Queen’s Baton Relay and an official Partner of Glasgow 2014.