Glasgow 2014: Queen launches Commonwealth Games baton relay

The Queen inserted her message into the baton during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace

The Queen's Baton Relay - heralding the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - has been launched at Buckingham Palace.

The baton contains the Queen's hand-written message to the Commonwealth and will visit all 70 competing nations and territories over the next 288 days.

It will travel to Scotland on Thursday before heading to India for its first international stopover on 11 October.

The baton's journey will end at the opening ceremony on 23 July 2014, when the Queen will read the message inside.

The empty baton was escorted to Buckingham Palace by pipers and cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, a six-time Olympic Gold and double Commonwealth Gold medallist.

During the launch ceremony, the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Prince Imran of Malaysia, said the relay had power and meaning.

The story of the Commonwealth Queen's baton

"The relay unites two billion citizens of the Commonwealth in a celebration of sport, diversity and peace," he said.

"It will also bring the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth together.

"Every time the baton is passed it will cement the Commonwealth friendship and reinforce the ways in which we are connected."

The ceremony also heard from Lord Smith of Kelvin, chairman of games organiser Glasgow 2014.

The Queen and Commonwealth baton

He said: "The spirit of friendship that will be displayed as the baton is passed from hand to hand reflects the warm welcome that nations and territories of the Commonwealth can expect when they come to Glasgow and to Scotland next summer.

"This is a historic moment for Glasgow 2014. We will treasure it and we look forward to following closely the Queen's baton relay on its momentous journey."

Following the speeches, the Queen placed the hand-written scroll, which contains her message to the Commonwealth, inside the baton.

It was then sealed for its journey of more than 190,000km through Commonwealth territories in Asia, Oceania, Africa, North and South America and the Caribbean.

The first baton bearer was Alan Wells, the Scottish sprinter who won gold in the men's 100m at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

Alan Wells carries the baton from Buckingham Palace The first bearer Alan Wells carries the baton from Buckingham Palace

He said: "As the final runner of the Queen's Baton Relay (QBR) at the last Commonwealth Games on Scottish soil in Edinburgh in 1986, the baton and what it symbolises is incredibly special for me.

"It is a real honour for me to now be named as the first baton-bearer for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games."

Wells handed the baton on to Scottish swimmer Caitlin McLatchey, who won two gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

A short relay then took place up and down The Mall involving Scottish athletes Cara Kennedy (artistic gymnast), Morgan McKinnon (triple jump) and Ruairi Kirkwood (swimming).

Other participants included Izzy Conway, a volunteer or Clydesider at the games, Aamir Meymood, the 13-year-old Shawlands Academy pupil who designed the Glasgow 2014 tartan, games ambassador Julie McIlroy and 12-year-old Beth Gilmour, who will be accompanied by games mascot Clyde, whom she designed.

commonwealth games baton relay map

Those attending the ceremony included Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond.

'Momentous year'

He said: "The start of the Queen's Baton Relay, with two of Scotland's greatest-ever athletes, is another step towards what will be a momentous year for Scotland.

"2014 promises the greatest-ever Games and the relay will provide a fantastic celebration of sport and culture across the Commonwealth, with Glasgow and Scotland at its heart."

During its international journey the baton will spend an average of one to four days in each nation, with an extended duration of seven days in Wales, two weeks in England and 40 days in Scotland.

It will not stopover in the Gambia, which last week withdrew from the Commonwealth, saying it will "never be a member of any neo-colonial institution".

The baton has a lattice design, made from layers of titanium fused together by laser, which means the message is visible.

Mark Beaumont

The baton's journey around the globe will be documented by adventurer and broadcaster Mark Beaumont for the BBC.

The designers said the message from the Queen was "pivotal" and they were keen it should not be "hidden away".

The parchment, handmade in Glasgow using linen and plant fibre, is also "dramatically" illuminated by LED lights within a transparent cylinder to make the sealed scroll easier to see.

The brief for designers stated that the baton should be easily handed from person to person, should weigh no more than 2kg and must be able to withstand all weathers for the 10-month relay.

The baton's handle is made of elm wood sourced from the grounds of Garrison House on the Isle of Cumbrae and was constructed using a boatbuilding technique called bird-mouthing, which means it is light, strong and durable.

The top of the baton contains a granite "gemstone" which will be detached by opening a puzzle mechanism and given as gift to each nation and territory.

The gems are made of water-resistant granite unique to Scotland and were sourced from Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde.

Glasgow 2014 will be the 20th Commonwealth Games and will feature 17 sports in 11 days of competition, with 261 medal events.


At the top of the baton is a granite ‘gemstone’, which will be given to each nation and territory. The stones come from Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde and have been crafted by Kays of Scotland and jewellers from Glasgow School of Art.

The gemstone can only be removed by opening a clever puzzle mechanism.

The lattice frame is inspired by Glasgow's industrial and architectural heritage. A process called direct metal laser sintering was used to create its organic shape by fusing together layers of pure titanium powder.

Inside the baton is a message from the Queen, written on parchment handmade in Glasgow from linen and plant fibre. Sealed with the royal seal, the message forms the 'visual core' of the baton, illuminated from within by LED lights.

The elm handle is crafted from wood from the grounds of Garrison House on the Isle of Cumbrae, and represents Scotland's natural resources. It was constructed using a boatbuilding technique known as "bird-mouthing", traditionally used to make ships' masts.

The Commonwealth of Nations has 54 members, but 70 teams participate in the Commonwealth Games because a number of British overseas territories, Crown dependencies and island states compete under their own flag.

The UK nations - Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland - compete separately in the Commonwealth Games, as do the smaller home territories such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

The first Queen's Baton Relay was staged for the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff and has been the curtain raiser to the Games ever since.

But until 1998, the relay would only travel through England and the host nation.

By 2002, in Manchester, it was covering 100,000km and visiting 23 nations.

Melbourne 2006 was the first baton relay to visit all the nations which sent teams to the Games.

The baton's journey around the globe will be documented by adventurer and broadcaster Mark Beaumont for the BBC.

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    09:39: Fatal house blaze victim named

    An elderly woman who died in a house fire in Dumfries and Galloway on Monday evening has been named as 89-year-old Mona Stephenson.

    She was pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze in the village of Sorbie, near Newton Stewart.

    09:36: Dumfries: A701 BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    A701 - Just north of Parkgate (that's between Dumfries and Beattock) - one driver says he has been stationary for 45 minutes - ambulance and helicopter have turned up.

    09:33: Sport live Q&A Tom English BBC Scotland Sport

    I will be answering your questions on the Scottish League Cup semi-finals today.

    BBC Sport screengrab

    Get involved in the Q&A by posting your questions to the BBC Sport Scotland Facebook page by midday.

    @GLASubwayTravel Glasgow Subway

    Inner still suspended. Stations are busier than usual but staff on hand to help.

    09:28: Elderly centres cut The Evening Times

    Three Glasgow centres for older people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are to close.

    Right now the city council provides day-care services for the Chinese, Indian and mainly Pakistani communities, including faith-related services for Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims.

    09:22: Frosty the glow man Steven McKenzie BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

    Snow covers a pedestrian crossing in Inverness this morning, but illuminated symbols of a bike and person glow through.

    Illuminated symbols of a bike and person glow through a covering of snow on a pedestrian crossing in Inverness
    09:18: Sarwar resigns

    Former Glasgow Govan MP Mohammad Sarwar has resigned as governor of Punjab in Pakistan.

    Mohammad Sarwar

    News of his departure came in a tweet in which he said it had been an honour to serve the people of Pakistan.

    09:14: Still snowy in Selkirk BBC Reporter Richard Gordon

    The sky here is blue but there has been a fair fall of snow, especially in the western parts of the borders - they've been worst hit overnight.

    There are no reports of road closures. Driving conditions on minor routes are challenging because gritting crews are of course focusing on main roads at the moment.

    The situation is expected to improve as the day goes on. We might get one or two more snow showers but we're not expecting many.

    School buses not running in the Hawick, Peebles, Selkirk , Jedburgh and Newcastleton areas.

    09:10: Perthshire: A85 BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    #Crieff #A85 partially blocked RTC Crieff to Comrie.

    09:08: South Ayrshire

    Three school closures so far in South Ayrshire.

    Details on the council website.

    09:06: South-west Scotland Giancarlo Rinaldi South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

    More than 50 schools have been shut across Dumfries and Galloway as snows affected the region.

    It is mainly primaries and secondaries in the east of the region which have been affected.

    Anyone for tennis?

    Ruth Davidson has tweeted about her excitement over Andy Murray: Hmmm..... FMQ prep Vs tennis..... #comeonandy

    Nicola Sturgeon was quick to take up the suggestion: @RuthDavidsonMSP I'm sure we could come to some arrangement - @kdugdalemsp?

    Suddenly consensus begins breaking out: .@NicolaSturgeon ok, I'll bring the snacks - let's use your office. @kdugdalemsp Kez, you in?

    And Kezia Dugdale agrees, it's time for tennis: @RuthDavidsonMSP @NicolaSturgeon yes, there in a minute, looking for the Pimms

    09:00: A75 hazardous BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    #A75 partially blocked hazardous driving conditions, snow between B725 (Carrutherstown) and B721 (Newbie). A number of lorries are stuck

    08:57: Scene in Dumfries BBC Reporter Bruce MacKenzie

    There is actually a lot of widespread disruption now. A lot of untreated back roads in the west of the region that are hazardous this morning.

    A lot of people telling me that they are getting to where they need to go, it's just taking them a lot longer.

    That seems to be the overall picture at the moment.

    We have had quite a bit more snow since just after 06:00 this morning - probably here in Dumfries another inch or so of snow.

    Quite a lot of snow lying on power lines. No reports of any power problems in the region at the moment, but that one that we will be definitely keeping an eye on.

    08:55: Scene in Inverness BBC Reporter Kevin MacKenzie

    A little more snow has fallen since 06:00 this morning but police in Inverness are describing the roads across the north as generally "passable with care" - they have been no incidents reported so far.

    There's certainly quite a bit of snow on the route but roads all look pretty clear.

    While some schools are being closed across the Highland area, some of the bigger schools such as Charleston Academy in Inverness and Nairn Academy will open a little later due to weather affecting school transport.

    In Moray there seems to be no snow problems.

    @trafficscotland Traffic Scotland

    #A75 btwn Annan and Carrutherstown - @ScotTranserv has treated E/B and now working on the W/B. HGV's still stuck in the area. #BeAware

    08:49: Your pictures - snow in Scotland via Facebook

    Yolanda Preston posts: Believe it or not there's my car under there!

    Picture from facebook

    That's a lot of snow! Be careful in kilsyth as roads really slippy and not cleared and M80 moving slow! There's nothing in Stirling compared to Glasgow! Took me an hour to get to work this morning! ‪#‎traumatic‬

    @nlcpeople North Lanarkshire

    Transport: no buses to Calderhead HS, McGregors bus to Glencryan School cancelled.

    @argyllandbute Argyll and Bute

    Thursday schools update: Skipness primary school is closed today

    08:42: 180 gritters deployed

    Speaking on Good Morning Scotland Transport Minister Derek McKay said: "There've been a few incidents overnight but they've been cleared and the traffic systems have still been working well.

    "Even at the moment, during typical peak hour traffic the road network is still flowing fairly well.

    "There is one issue at the M8 plantation eastbound but its still passable with care, and I think we've prepared very well for the weather and the snow.

    "With 180+ gritters out, we've worked very hard to prepare the roads for these conditions."

    08:39: Ten mile tailback BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Earlier accident #GW #M8 eastbound at plantation causing a ten mile tailback to erskine bridge.

    08:36: Highland Council Steven McKenzie BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

    29 schools and nurseries shut in the Highlands. The closures involve 4,795 pupils.

    08:34: Today's papers

    The decision by the Scottish government to announce a moratorium on fracking dominates front pages in The Scotsman and The National.

    Scotland's newspapers frontpages

    Elsewhere, the Scottish Daily Mail leads with the story of councils using anti-terror laws "to spy on dog walkers, tanning salons and shops selling fireworks".

    An axe killer walking the streets four years after being detained without limit of time is the lead story in the Daily Record. The Herald claims fee-paying students at the University of the West of Scotland are to be offered their money back if they fail to graduate.

    Read the full paper review here.



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