Developing a national legacy in design and sport for the Queen.

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games | Queen's Baton

Saying that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games’ baton went on a bit of a journey is an understatement. The Queen placed her message inside the baton, and in what is known as the Queen’s Baton Relay, the baton journeyed 190,000km from Buckingham Palace to be paraded around 71 nations of the Commonwealth. The relay is a heartfelt invitation to the athletes, people and communities of the Commonwealth to come together and celebrate sport, culture and unity.

After 288 days, the baton reached its final destination of Glasgow on 23 July 2014 for the opening ceremony. Here the Queen removed her message and read it aloud, heralding the official start of the Games. Unlike the Olympic torch, in which a number of torches of the same design are produced, the Queen’s baton is a one off.

What was asked of 4c? ‘Design the Queen’s Baton for Glasgow 2014’.


We started by writing the brief. This involved working with over 30 stakeholders, including the Commonwealth Committee, Sport Scotland and Glasgow City Centre, all of whom wanted to contribute to the design of the baton. With all stakeholders put in one room, and following one of the most intense sprints 4c has ever facilitated, we managed to consolidate the thinking into three key aspects: sport, Glaswegian culture and the Queen’s message.

Involving stakeholders at this early stage provided quick progression and buy-in. With the final brief in hand, the challenge now was to deliver the finished baton in just six months.

We progressed quickly with various prototypes and designs to get to a final concept. There were three key elements behind the design of the baton:

The Handle

Using reclaimed wood from a Scottish west coast island, it was constructed using a technique from the boat building trade. This was a deliberate reference to the early beginnings of the vast boat building industry that helped Glasgow become the great city it is today. With limited time available for testing, we attached a sample of this to our office door handle where it would undergo regular abuse by staff, visitors and delivery drivers. Proving its robustness, it gave us the confidence to send the one and only baton around the world to be held by thousands during the relay.

The Queens Message

Written by Her Majesty, the message was rolled up and placed inside a transparent cylinder that was lit up making it visible but not legible. A titanium lattice protected the message, the design of which pays respect to  Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Cranes of Glasgow, and was created using  cutting edge technology in the form of Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). The contrast between the two materials used for the handle and lattice illustrated the development of engineering and technology, which Scotland is recognised for worldwide.

The Invitation to the Games

This was in the form of a gem crafted in Scottish granite from the Isle of Ailsa Craig and detailed with metal work from the Glasgow School of Art. Each nation the baton visited would receive its own gem that would be revealed from a puzzle mechanism made from the same titanium process as the lattice. This puzzle would also secure the Queen’s message until ready.

Capabilities Utilised

  • Design Thinking
  • Innovation Sprints (find out more)
  • Stakeholder management
  • Workshop Facilitation
  • Ethnographic research
  • Brand development
  • Story telling
  • Small batch manufacturing liaison
  • Concept generation
  • Industrial design
  • Prototyping
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electronics engineering
  • 3rd sector engagement
  • Marketing support
learn about our other capabilities

Value Generated

Following 4,000 hours spent on this project, the baton was successfully delivered to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. She placed her message inside and the baton commenced its long journey. When it arrived in Glasgow for the opening ceremony it was a proud moment for Scotland and a proud moment for 4c. The baton even received high praise from the taxi driver taking us to the opening ceremony to the Queen herself during the event.

It wasn’t just an iconic product, it was also a powerful marketing tool. Images and videos of the baton, as well as the story behind its various elements, featured in a raft of marketing material relating to the Games. This not only helped to promote the Queen’s Baton Relay but also design and industry in Scotland, which all had a part to play in the baton’s construction.

Tourism in Glasgow increased 37% during the Games and the baton was part of it, delivering invitations to the 71 nations in the Commonwealth.

From the moment we revealed the baton design, through to the final handover, we were delighted with the response. Our aim was to design an iconic product (no mean feat) that would represent the Games and its host by involving all of 4c’s multi-disciplinary team, and we simply delivered.

"Her Majesty has asked me to tell you that she was most impressed by the baton, which she was able to see first-hand at the launch of the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay at Buckingham Palace."

Edward Young - The Deputy Private Secretary to The Queen

"The Queens baton made the marketing teams lives a lot easier. It was photogenic and captured the essence that is Glasgow. 4c build a legacy."

Commonwealth Games Federation
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Some of our favourite photos from the official Glasgow 2014 marketing team and more can be viewed here.