Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II set the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay in motion during a commencement ceremony held at Buckingham Palace on Monday 13 March as part of Commonwealth Day celebrations. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Edward The Earl of Wessex, The Queen placed her message to the Commonwealth and its athletes inside the distinctive Baton. After leaving Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Baton will 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.
Sierra Leone was the first country to receive the Queen’s Baton, which was accompanied by the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Louise Martin CBE, and members of her team, on ‘Commonwealth Week’ (13 – 18 March). In another first, UK in Sierra Leone hosted the first official Baton relay at the International Security Advisory Team (ISAT) estate where staff from across the Commonwealth came together as baton-bearers to perform a relay with the Queen’s Baton.
After leaving ISAT, the Baton travelled to Fourah Bay College on its way to State House where it was received by His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The British High Commissioner, Guy Warrington hosted a reception at his Residence jointly with the Australian High Commissioner Andrew Barnes in which members of the government of Sierra Leone, the diplomatic and consular corps, scholarship alumni, the press and other valued partners were in attendance. The Queen’s Baton was on display during the event and guests had the opportunity to see a photographic exhibition showing scenes from the previous Commonwealth Games and the last time the Queen’s Baton visited Sierra Leone in 2013.
A Modern Commonwealth
This year the theme for the Commonwealth is peace-building, which reaffirms the Commonwealth Charter principle: ‘that international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all’. Many of the more than 80 intergovernmental, professional and civil society organisations within the Commonwealth family are proactively engaged with, or contribute towards, the pursuit and strengthening of peace through their work.
Baroness Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary General said:
At a time of increasing instability and uncertainty in the world, the Commonwealth family of nations in its rich diversity becomes an ever more-needed source of strength and hope for all its members.
We welcome the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work to help countries build democratic institutions, hold credible and transparent elections, promote and uphold human rights and good governance, recognise its support to nations as they seek out economic and environmental security for their citizens and deliver peace for generations to come.
The UK will host the Commonwealth Summit in 2018, providing a platform on which to set a new vision of a strong and effective Commonwealth, and the following two years will see the UK act as Chair in Office. Through this important function within the Commonwealth family, the UK will continue to build on the spirit of goodwill and help to foster a peaceful and abundant future for all Commonwealth citizens.