By KHADIJA KOTHIA
LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II has presided over the launch of the baton relay for next year’s Commonwealth Games in the central England city of Birmingham. It was the 95-year-old queen’s first major engagement at Buckingham Palace since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. British Paralympic gold medalist Kadeena Cox had the honor on Thursday of taking the baton from the monarch for the first leg of its 90,000-mile (145,000 kilometer) journey. The relay will go through 72 nations and territories over 294 days and will return to Birmingham for the July 28 opening ceremony of the Games. The Commonwealth Games mostly involve countries and territories with former colonial ties to Britain, including Australia, India and South Africa.