Queen Elizabeth was in attendance at a small ceremony held at Buckingham Palace that celebrated the start of the Queen’s Baton Relay for Birmingham 2022. A message, written by her, was placed in the baton to be read aloud during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The baton began the day at the Horse Guards Parade from where it was paraded down the Mall by a grassroots sports group known as Birmingham 2022 Hometown Heroes, as well as a Tri-Service military band.
Hometown Hero, Kevin Dillon, brought the baton to the stage at Buckingham Palace to begin the ceremony. The Queen was joined on stage by Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, Dame Louise Martin DBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, and the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree OBE.
The Queen’s message was then brought to the stage by Hometown Hero and England’s first hijab-wearing boxing coach, Haseebah Abdullah. The Queen then proceeded to place her message in the baton.
Paralympic star and four-time gold medalist, Kadeena Cox, then received the torch from the Queen, thus officially beginning the Queen’s Baton Relay. She then passed the torch to Declan James, a squash player from England, and Lauren Price, a boxer from Wales, who had been positioned at The Queen Victoria Memorial.
Baton bearers representing Scotland and Northern Ireland were included in the ceremony as well. Children from Birmingham were also present at the ceremony as flag bearers representing the nations of the Commonwealth.
The ceremony was hosted by BBC Asian Network presenter Noreen Khan, and included performances from Birmingham-based acapella group Black Voices, a live-streamed performance from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and a poem written and read by the Birmingham Poet Laureate and Birmingham 2022 Legacy and Benefits Committee member, Casey Bailey.
Speaking on the launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay, Martin said, “I am absolutely delighted we have finally arrived at this special moment, the launch of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay!”
“This is a very important day for Commonwealth Sport as the message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visits our 72 nations and territories in this unique Baton. Traveling for 294 days, and covering 140,000 kilometres, the Queen’s Baton Relay provides Birmingham and the West Midlands the opportunity to showcase itself on a global scale.
“It marks the final countdown to the Birmingham 2022 Opening Ceremony on 28 July and provides hope, harmony and cooperation across the Commonwealth at a time when it is needed most.”
Crabtree, who is Chairman of Birmingham 2022, echoed her sentiments stating, “This journey champions the miracle of difference, the individuality of humanity, yet speaks to a collective collaboration of a global community. Birmingham 2022 will be the Games for everyone, and the Queen’s Baton Relay is just one example of that. We will come together challenging the transformational power of sport to unite us all.”
Cox also gave remarks on her experience of being the first batonbearer in the relay, stating, “It was an absolute honour to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event. Receiving the Queen’s Baton from Her Majesty The Queen was a moment I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.”
“It was also a privilege to share this special moment alongside six other incredible athletes from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s so exciting to think that this Baton will now travel across the Commonwealth, where other inspirational individuals will become Batonbearers in their own communities.”