Have to say that the official countdown to the Commonwealth Games has gotten off to a fantastic start. Her Majesty, The Queen passed the baton onto the Indian President yesterday at Buckingham Palace, which was billed as a ‘first’ in the Games’ history as the baton had never been passed from one Head of State to another.
Actually, what was expected to be a damp squib of an event turned out to be a great show, with the forecourt of the Palace (on the “right” side of the famous gates that we peer through to take a look at the Palace) being used as a venue that accomodated the hoi poloi of Indian society and officals from the Commonwealth.
For me it was quite surreal to see kathak, bharatnatyam and other forms of Indian dance traditions alongside tabla, and sitar players in such a majestic environment. To top if off, when the Royal party arrived, the ceremonial troupe first played the Indian National Anthem – which seemed strange but another sign of India arriving – followed by ‘God Save the Queen’ – which we’ve sung on the terraces of our football stadia, but it truly felt odd humming ‘God Save Our Glorious Queen’ to the Queen!
The organisers had brought to the stage a phenomenal cast of sports stars that included Kapil Dev, Abhinav Bindra, Sania Mirza and the Flying Sikh – who ran for India many moons ago. On the British side, Dame Kelly Holmes, Lord Coe, Monty Panesar all lead the charge. They all took the baton out of the Palace and ran around the Victoria Memorial a few times and posed for video and photos – quite funnily at one point Kapil Dev had to hold Seb Coe back from overtaking Sania Mirza, who’s turn it was to carry the baton.
All in all a great enjoyable event and the British team’s given it all their weight. Let’s hope Suresh Kalmadi gets that Delhi needs to be ready for the games in a year’s time!