Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Earl of Wessex, The Queen placed Her message to the Commonwealth and its athletes inside the distinctive Baton.
The Queen’s Baton will now travel through the entire Commonwealth for 388 days, covering 230,000 kilometres to its final destination, the Opening Ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) on 4 April 2018.
Australian Paralympic champion Kurt Fearnley delivered the Queen’s Baton starting from Marlborough House up The Mall and into the Palace Forecourt, accompanied by the Band of the Scots Guards.
Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Peter Beattie, Chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) and Yugambeh Elders Patricia O’Connor and Ted Williams accompanied Her Majesty in the ceremonial party.
"The launch of the Baton Relay is a wonderful addition to Commonwealth Day festivities," said the Commonwealth's Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland. "it will carry the Commonwealth values of good sportsmanship and fair play to every corner of the Commonwealth. I look forward to seeing it arrive in Gold Coast to start the next games."
Emily Dean, a nine-year-old middle distance runner from Southport, England, had the remarkable role of holding the message for Her Majesty before it was placed into the Baton. Emily was identified through the Adopt-a-Commonwealth Country program, part of GOLDOC’s international Schools Connect initiative.
For the first time at a commencement ceremony at Buckingham Palace, representatives of the Traditional Custodians of the land where the Commonwealth Games will be held, the Yugambeh Language Group People, delivered a moving invitation to all First Nations peoples of the Commonwealth to join in the celebrations of the Games on Yugambeh land.
The invitation reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s 2017 theme of a ‘peace-building Commonwealth’.
Australian cycling legend and Commonwealth and Olympic Games gold medallist, Anna Meares OAM, was honoured to be the first person to receive the Baton from The Queen after Her message was placed safely within.
The recently retired champion and ambassador for the games took the Queen’s Baton through the Palace Gates to longtime rival and arguably England’s most successful track cyclist Victoria Pendleton, in a moment that was symbolic of Her Majesty’s long-held belief that friendly competition helps build lasting friendships and strong communities.
Together the star cyclists carried the Baton around the Queen Victoria Memorial, sharing the excitement with the public who were gathered to witness the start of the historic Relay.
The ceremony was capped off in classic Australian style when the Baton departed the Palace in the hands of world-renowned Gold Coast singer and environmental champion Cody Simpson aboard a Kombi van loaded with surfboards as a nod to the Baton’s final destination, Gold Coast, Australia.
Earlier in the ceremony Cody endeared the international guest list with a stirring acoustic rendition of ‘I Still Call Australia Home’. The audience was also treated to an original performance by Sydney artist Lucy Mason.
The Queen’s Baton will take flight on 15 March to Sierra Leone, the first stop on the 288-day international journey to all nations and territories of the Commonwealth.
It will arrive back in Australia and start its Australian journey on 25 December 2017. It will visit every state and territory across the country for 100 days.
GC2018 is currently calling on the Australian public to nominate people in their community to be batonbearers for the Baton’s home stretch.