London: Queen Elizabeth II flagged off the Commonwealth Games 2022 Baton Relay wearing a diamond brooch gifted to her by the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1947 in celebration of her wedding. The 95-year-old monarch was joined by her youngest son, Prince Edward, at Buckingham Palace on Thursday for the traditional ceremony dressed in a bright orange outfit adorned with the large “rose brooch”.
It originally belonged in a tiara, which was a gift from Asaf Jah VII, among the world’s richest men at the time of her wedding to Prince Philip. He famously told Cartier jewellers to let the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, select anything from their collection as a wedding gift from him.
Her choice of the brooch for the Commonwealth ceremony is also seen as a tribute to her late husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away in April this year. Her launch of the Baton Relay marked her first major in-person event at Buckingham Palace since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
“The Baton’s epic journey will conclude at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in July 2022, where Her Majesty will take the message from the baton and read it aloud,” Buckingham Palace said. The message within the baton is kept secret until that moment. The hi-tech equipment has been dubbed a “smart baton”, with a 360-degree camera, a monitor that displays the heartbeats of bearers, LED lighting and GPS tracking and atmospheric sensors that use laser technology to analyse the environmental conditions.
Its international route, which includes India, will span 269 days, spending between two and four days in each nation or territory, covering approximately 90,000 miles (140,000 kilometres), with over 7,500 Baton Bearers given the opportunity to carry the Baton in their community.
The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay will visit 72 nations and territories that fall within the Commonwealth but will travel almost half the distance than the previous Gold Coast Queen’s Baton Relay in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint.
Flying out from Birmingham Airport, the first stop on the Relay is Cyprus on Saturday, shortly followed by Malta on October 9. Arriving in Africa on October 16, the Baton will take in all 19 Commonwealth countries on the continent, as well as a stop on the volcanic island of Saint Helena.
After three days in Pakistan, the Baton will spend New Year’s Day in the Maldives, before visiting Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and spending four days in India between 12-15 January 2022.