Sir Chris Hoy made a triumphant journey to Buckingham Palace carrying the Commonwealth Games baton ahead of the start of the sporting event’s global relay.
Britain’s most successful Olympian was given the honour of processing the symbol of Glasgow 2014 down The Mall before the Queen launched the baton on its epic trip.
The Edinburgh cyclist, who has retired from competitive racing, was joined by the Pipes and Drums 1st Battalion Scots Guards and the Pipes and Drums 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (Royal Scots Borderers).
Another Edinburgh athlete, sprint veteran Allan Wells, below, winner of two Commonwealth Golds and the 100m Olympic sprint title at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, was then the first athlete to receive the baton from the Queen and start it on its journey.
He said: “As the final runner of the Queen’s Baton Relay at the last Commonwealth Games on Scottish soil in Edinburgh in 1986, the baton and what it symbolises is incredibly special for me. It is a real honour.”
The Queen has written a message to the athletes to mark the start of the baton relay around all the Commonwealth nations and territories before the Glasgow 2014 Games.
The note was written during her summer stay at Balmoral on Royal Deeside and was placed inside the specially made baton before it started its 248-day journey around 70 nations and territories. The content of the message will remain a secret until the Queen reads it aloud at the opening ceremony of the Games at Celtic Park on July 23 next year.
The relay is a Commonwealth tradition that started in 1958, growing in size and scale with every Games.
It shares similarities with the Olympic torch relay and is designed to unite the citizens of the Commonwealth in a celebration of sport, diversity and peace.
Glasgow 2014 is the 20th Commonwealth Games and the baton relay route is the biggest so far.
Scottish sprint veteran Allan Wells, winner of two Commonwealth Golds and the 100m Olympic sprint title at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, was the first athlete to receive the baton from the Queen and start it on its journey.
The baton will travel through Asia, Oceania, Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.
Some doubt was cast over the Indian leg of the tour, which is set to take place later this week, after reports from the country suggested it was unable to host it due to the Hindu festival of Dussehra, but organisers of the relay say it will go ahead.
The baton was due to travel to 71 nations and territories in total, but part of the route is being redrawn following Gambia’s decision not to participate in the Games.
The move comes days after the west African nation announced its departure from the Commonwealth, saying it will ‘’never be a member of any neo-colonial institution’’.
The country’s withdrawal reduces the number of nations and territories competing at the Games to 70.
The last leg of the baton relay will see it travel the length and breadth of Scotland on the way to the opening ceremony.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “The start of the Queen’s Baton Relay, with two of Scotland’s greatest-ever athletes, is another step towards what will be a momentous year for Scotland.
“2014 promises the greatest-ever Games and the relay will provide a fantastic celebration of sport and culture across the Commonwealth, with Glasgow and Scotland at its heart.”
The baton - made out of titanium, wood and granite - is expected to cover about 123,000 miles (198,000km) and will be the first baton ever to visit Rwanda.
It will spend an average of one to four days in each nation, with an extended duration of seven days in Wales, two weeks in England and 40 days in Scotland.
It will be in Vanuatu, in the South Pacific, over Christmas, bring in the start of 2014 in Sierra Leone and celebrate St Andrew’s Day - dedicated to the patron saint of Scotland - in New Zealand.
The smallest island on the route is Nauru, also in the South Pacific.