A glittering ceremony on the Gold Coast ushered in the start of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.
A three-hour display, which saw competitors from each of the 71 nations parade around the Carrara Stadium, concluded with Prince Charles taking the stand to declare the 21st Games officially open.
The Queen’s representative said: “On Commonwealth Day last year I placed this message into the impressive baton. Over the past 388 days, on its journey from Buckingham Palace to the Gold Coast, the baton relay has passed through every nation and territory of the Commonwealth.
“I have no doubt that the baton and its carriers have been warmly welcomed by the many thousands of people who have lined the route. The ancient stories told by the indigenous people of Australia remind us that even though we may be half a world away, we are all connected.
“Over the years these friendly Games have shown the potential of the Commonwealth to connect people of different backgrounds and nationalities.
“In this spirit of cooperation and togetherness and enduring friendships found and forged. As you come together at the start of these Games, I continue to be inspired by the courage, enthusiasm and dedication of all those taking part.
“I send my warm wishes to every competing individual and team and to all those who have helped to bring about the first Commonwealth Games in this very special part of Australia – the Gold Coast.
“Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it now gives me the greatest pleasure, to declare the XXI Commonwealth Games open.”
The ceremony itself showcased the best of Australian culture with dancers performing a Gold Coast beach scene before contemporary aboriginal artist Luther Cora led a traditional smoking ceremony that wowed the crowds.
Versions of Australian pop classics ‘Down Under’ by Men at Work and ‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham were also performed.
The Queen’s baton finally made its way into the stadium and into the hands of home athlete Sally Pearson, who handed it over to Prince Charles, before the ceremony finished to another impressive kaleidoscope of colour featuring singer Delta Goodrem and a whale named Migaloo perched above the performers.
The first events take place on Thursday with the Games scheduled to finish on April 15.