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© Provided by People Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Queen Elizabeth
After a 294-day journey to all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth spanning 90,000 miles, Queen Elizabeth's secret message is revealed.
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Thursday, Prince Charles read the note from the monarch that was carried around the world in a baton. The message was placed there by the Queen in Oct. 2021 at Buckingham Palace.
"On October 7th last year, this specially created Baton left Buckingham Palace to travel across the Commonwealth. Over the past 294 days, it has carried not only my message to you, but also the shared hopes and dreams of each nation and territory through which it passed, as it made its way to Birmingham," the Queen wrote.
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"Over the years, the coming together of so many for the 'Friendly Games' has created memorable shared experiences, established long standing relationships, and even created some friendly rivalries! But above all they remind us of our connection with one another, wherever we may be in the world, as part of the Commonwealth family of nations," she continued.
"Tonight, in the words of the founder of the Games, we embark once again on a novel adventure here in Birmingham, a pioneering city which has drawn in and embraced so many throughout its history. It is a city symbolic of the rich diversity and unity of the Commonwealth, and one which now welcomes you all in friendship," the Queen said. "My warmest thanks go to all those who have worked so hard to ensure the success of this particularly special sporting event, and I wish each athlete and team every success. Your hard work and dedication, particularly in recent times, have been an inspiration to all of us."
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Queen Elizabeth ended the message, "It now gives me the greatest pleasure to declare the 22nd Commonwealth Games open."
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The Commonwealth Games began in 1930 as the British Empire Games and have been held every four years (with the exception of 1942 and 1946) since. In 2022, 4,500 athletes from 72 and territories are expected to participate in the multi-sport event.
The baton relay was introduced at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. Since then, the relay has extended greatly — at first, the journey was only went through England and the host nation.
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© Provided by People David Ramos/Getty Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles
Queen Elizabeth, who has started every Commonwealth Baton Relay since 1958, serves as patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation, while Prince Edward has the role of vice-patron.
Prince Charles was joined at the opening ceremony by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
In a message released ahead of the opening ceremony, Prince Edward thanked all participants for the roles they played in making the Games happen.
"To all athletes, officials, spectators and visitors I bid you a very warm welcome and thank you all for coming. It simply wouldn't be the great festival of sport it is without you," he wrote. "Yet the Games are more than just about sport, they are the greatest manifestation of the Commonwealth: our extraordinary collection of countries linked together through a myriad of bonds of common interests and relationships. The parallel arts festival is an integral part of this celebration and reminds us of our shared values and the tremendous talent that exists across our family of nations."
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