Since launching from Buckingham Palace on 9 October 2013, the Queen's Baton has been on an incredible adventure around the nations and territories of the Commonwealth – meeting sporting legends, rising stars, enthusiastic schoolchildren and inspirational local people along the way.
Now the baton is on its final straight through Europe and the British Isles, before arriving in Scotland for the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on 23 July.
The first European destination to welcome the Queen’s Baton was Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. With the historical town of Paphos as a backdrop, the baton was met by dancing schoolchildren, proud athletes and excited locals including Jessica Heap – an amateur golfer from the UK who has lived in Cyprus for 10 years.
Rain may have been falling in Cyprus, but the spirits of the batonbearers certainly weren’t dampened! In Larnaca, Mayor Andreas Louroutziatis passed the baton to sprinter Skevi Andreou who ran to 12th century Byzantine Larnaca Castle with skiers, gymnasts and long distance runners all joining in.
The island of Malta made its debut at the Cardiff 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games – the year of the first ever Queen’s Baton Relay!
Batonbearers ran with the relay along the sun-baked streets of Mellieha, Rabat, Mdina and Valletta. The baton took a step back in time with the Inguardia Knights of St. John Re-enactment group, visited the Tal-Ggantija Neolithic temple – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and was welcomed to Gozo by the Gozo College Boys’ Secondary School, with students singing opera and dancing in celebration.
The baton’s final international stop before landing on the British Isles was Gibraltar. On 10 May 1954, Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh enjoyed the beautiful views from the Rock of Gibraltar – just as the baton did on its latest visit.
Athletes, cyclists, motorcyclists and military forces relayed the baton through the streets, lined with people cheering on the baton. The curious pupils of Bishop Fitzgerald School were especially interested, asking “what does the message inside the baton say? Is it a secret?”
Soon we will all find out, when the baton is returned to The Queen to read out Her Message on 23 July at the Opening Ceremony of the XX Commonwealth Games.
The relay’s journey through Europe isn’t over yet. Find out the latest as the baton makes its way through the British Isles in our Relay Recaps.
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Queen's Baton Relay - Highlights of Europe
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