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The Queen sends Commonwealth Games baton on its way to Australia

Inside the baton is a message from the monarch which will be read at the opening ceremony of the Games in April next year.

The Queen has set the Commonwealth Games baton on its journey around the globe following a razzmatazz-filled ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

With the colourful flags of the Commonwealth’s 52 member states as a backdrop, the Queen, joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, watched as the baton was carried its first few hundred metres by a succession of Olympic stars.

The Queen’s baton is on a 388-day relay covering more than 140,000 miles and will visit every Commonwealth nation on its way to the Games, being hosted by the Australian Gold Coast in 2018.

Inside the baton is a message from the monarch which will be read at the opening ceremony of the Games in April next year.

The Queen, who was also joined by the Earl of Wessex, handed the baton to its first bearer, Australian cycling legend and Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares, after adding a capsule with her words for the Commonwealth athletes.

Double Olympic gold medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton was the second baton bearer collecting it from Meares, her great sporting rival, at the palace gates, before the pair walked together around the nearby Queen Victoria memorial.

Australian heartthrob singer Cody Simpson performed during the ceremony staged in the palace’s forecourt and was bowled over by the experience, describing the Queen’s official London home as “regal, beautiful”.

The musician who grew up on the Gold Coast performed the unofficial anthem I Still Call Australia Home to an invited audience, before the Queen arrived.

He added: “This is definitely a first for me and one of the more surreal moments of my life thus far, I can say, and it’s a pleasure to be representing the Gold Coast, representing Australia – the Commonwealth Games uniting people through sport and through music today.

“The (Gold) Coast hasn’t ever had this kind of major sporting event before. Sydney and Melbourne have, obviously, in the past. I think it’s going to really shed light on what a beautiful stretch of coastline it is.”

Simpson was the third baton bearer and he joined Meares and Pendleton as they walked back to the palace gates before he was driven away in a surfer camper van – a symbol of the Gold Coast’s laid-back beach lifestyle.

During the ceremony, Patricia O’Connor and Ted Williams, representatives of the indigenous people from the lands where the 2018 Commonwealth Games are being staged, invited people from across the Commonwealth to attend the event.

Pendleton was interviewed briefly during the ceremony and when asked about her rivalry with Meares on the track, she replied: “We actually have so much in common, and I owe Anna so much for what I’ve achieved in my career.

“Between us we really pushed the sport forward – a great rivalry, but also a great friendship.”

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