The Queen's Baton Relay has been an essential part of the Commonwealth Games for more than 60 years.

Typically, it takes more than a year to complete and provides a vital connection to all the nations and regions of the Commonwealth. 

It has become the longest relay of its kind in the world.

The exact origins of the ritual are unclear, although it was introduced as a prelude to the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.

Athletics coach Bernard Baldwin, the founder of the legendary Nos Galan New Year's Eve race, had previously organised similar relays for Welsh national celebrations. 

His idea of a similar event at the finale of the 1958 Games may well have been the inspiration for the Queen's Baton Relay.

A baton which featured the red dragon was designed in Cardiff and made in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham, providing a pleasing link with the 2022 host city.

Birmingham was on the route for the first Relay which travelled by day and night to Cardiff.

The baton usually starts its journey at Buckingham Palace in London, but in 1970 Queen Elizabeth II sent her message to the athletes of Edinburgh from Canada's Northwest Territories. 

In 1974, the Relay for Christchurch began from Sandringham, the Queen's residence in Norfolk.

From 1990 onwards, the Queen's Baton Relay has become ever more ambitious and in 2006 it visited all of the Commonwealth nations and territories for the first time en-route to Melbourne.

"We wanted as many hands as possible to touch it so that The Queen knows that in her family throughout the Commonwealth, as many people have the chance to touch it and see her message," Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin has said.

For the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in Australia, the Relay proved to be a magnificent odyssey over 388 days. 

More than 8,000 bearers carried the baton over a distance of 230,000 kilometres.