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Queen's Baton Relay

Birmingham 2022 Baton Relay

The 16th Queen's Baton Relay is currently travelling to Birmingham 2022 and will visit all 72 Commonwealth Games countries and territories - an epic journey across the world.

As is tradition, Queen Elizabeth II has placed a message inside the baton which will be read out at the Birmingham Opening Ceremony on July 28.

Buckingham Palace in London witnessed the start of the Relay on October 7, 2021. 

It is now embarking on a journey of 294 days, taking in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas.

The baton is spending between two and four days in each country and territory, covering approximately 90,000 miles.

More than 7,500 batonbearers will be trusted to carry the baton during the Relay - a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In each country and territory, events and activities are being held and the baton will visit iconic landmarks.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the baton is travelling between each country by courier instead of a dedicated team accompanying it.

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The Route

The route of the Relay to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Birmingham 2022
The route of the Relay to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Birmingham 2022

After flying out of Birmingham Airport, the Relay first headed to Europe.

The opening destination was Cyprus on October 12, followed by Malta.

On October 16, the Baton arrived in Africa to begin its journey around the 19 Commonwealth countries on the continent.

Christmas Eve was spent in Seychelles before the baton brought in the New Year in the Maldives.

Three days were spent in Pakistan before visits to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and there were four days in India between January 12 and 15.

After visiting Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei in Southeast Asia, the baton reached the Pacific islands in February.

It will arrive in New Zealand between March 12 and 15 - a stop which will include Commonwealth Day.

Four days will be spent in Australia from March 17 to 20 and then there will be two months in the Caribbean and the Americas.

This will include four days in Canada from May 26.

As the Relay reaches its conclusion, the baton will visit the Falkland Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man before five days in Scotland.

There will be four days in Northern Ireland and five in Wales, before 25 days across the entirety of host nation England.

At the Opening Ceremony, the final batonbearer will return the baton to Queen Elizabeth II, or a chosen representative.

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The Baton

Zimbabwe-born, Coventry-based artist Laura Nyahuye is the designer of the Birmingham 2022 baton.

It was made in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, using the traditional method of lost-wax casting, so has strong local links.

Design took place in conjunction with Raymont-Osman Product Design, a design and engineering company, and development specialists Kajul, which are both based in Warwickshire.

The baton has been cast in non-precious metals - copper, aluminium and brass - to represent the gold, silver and bronze medals at the Games.

A platinum strand spans the length of the baton, in recognition of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee year, which marks the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 1952. 

This also celebrates her role as head of the Commonwealth.

A number of hi-tech features are also included, such as a 360-degree camera, heart-rate monitors, atmospheric sensors and LED lighting.

Laura Nyahuye designed the hi-tech Birmingham 2022 baton ©Birmingham 2022
Laura Nyahuye designed the hi-tech Birmingham 2022 baton ©Birmingham 2022

The lighting will change each time the baton is exchanged by two people - a move which will highlight "connections" after the COVID-19 pandemic limited human contact.

Also included as part of the baton are "lungs". These are atmospheric sensors with laser technology which will analyse environmental conditions wherever the baton is in the world. 

Augmented reality will be used to creatively visualise the data captured throughout the journey, to promote awareness of air quality across the Commonwealth.

This data will be sent to the University of Birmingham for analysis.

The Queen's message was placed in a mechanised chamber under a brass leaf plaque. 

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The Baton Relay will arrive in host nation England in July 2022 and will be carried across the country by more than 2,000 batonbearers, nominated by members of the public. 

A process to nominate batonbearers ended in February 2022.

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Origins of the Baton Relay

The Queen's Baton Relay has been an essential part of the Commonwealth Games for more than 60 years.

Typically, it takes more than a year to complete and provides a vital connection to all the nations and regions of the Commonwealth. 

It has become the longest Relay of its kind in the world.

The exact origins of the ritual are unclear, although it was introduced as a prelude to the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.

Athletics coach Bernard Baldwin, the founder of the legendary Nos Galan New Year's Eve race, had previously organised similar relays for Welsh national celebrations. 

His idea of a similar event at the finale of the 1958 Games may well have been the inspiration for the Queen's Baton Relay.

The baton now travels to every country and territory in the Commonwealth ©Getty Images
The baton now travels to every country and territory in the Commonwealth ©Getty Images

A baton which featured the red dragon was designed in Cardiff and made in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham, providing a pleasing link with the 2022 host city.

Birmingham was on the route for the first Relay which travelled by day and night to Cardiff.

The baton usually starts its journey at Buckingham Palace in London, but in 1970 Queen Elizabeth II sent her message to the athletes of Edinburgh from Canada's Northwest Territories. 

In 1974, the Relay for Christchurch began from Sandringham, the Queen's residence in Norfolk.

From 1990 onwards, the Queen's Baton Relay has become ever more ambitious and in 2006 it visited all of the Commonwealth nations and territories for the first time en-route to Melbourne.

"We want as many hands as possible to touch it so that The Queen knows that in her family throughout the Commonwealth, as many people have the chance to touch it and see her message," Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin has said.

For the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in Australia, the Relay proved to be a magnificent odyssey over 388 days. 

More than 8,000 bearers carried the baton over a distance of 230,000 kilometres.

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