The organisers of London 2012 have unveiled the new Paralympic torch, as they marked the latest milestone in the count-down to the games.
The three-sided torch – made from an aluminium alloy – has the same design as the golden Olympic torch, but has been given a silver mirrored finish so that its colour will adapt to its surroundings.
Because part of the torch relay will take place at night – the Olympic relay will only take place during the day – the lit Paralympic torch should also shine brightly and stand out in the darkness.
The three sides of the torch echo the three identical but differently-coloured shapes that make up the Paralympic symbol.
The torch was revealed as the 2012 organising committee, LOCOG, marked six months to the opening ceremony of the games on 29 August.
LOCOG also confirmed that the Paralympics will be declared open by the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh. They will also perform the same roles at the Olympics opening ceremony on 27 July.
It will be the first time the Queen has opened a Paralympic games, although she opened the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
The Paralympics torch relay will take a unique form, with separate flames lit in London (24 August), Belfast (25 August), Edinburgh (26 August) and Cardiff (27 August), before the four are brought together at a ceremony on 28 August at Stoke Mandeville, the “spiritual home” of the Paralympic movement.
This flame will then be carried by teams of volunteers on a 24-hour relay to the Olympic Stadium in east London for the opening ceremony.
LOCOG also announced the 33 communities across the UK that will host Paralympic “flame celebrations” over the August bank holiday weekend. Other communities will be encouraged to play a part by lighting their own lanterns.
Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said: “I think it is brilliant that the actual Paralympic flame, that will be used to light the cauldron in the opening ceremony on 29 August, will be created at Stoke Mandeville, a place steeped in Paralympic history.
“The games are coming home in six months’ time and it is only right that we celebrate the significance of Stoke Mandeville, the Paralympic movement’s birthplace.”
The torch will be carried by teams nominated by the public – and then selected by the relay’s sponsors, Sainsbury’s, BT and Lloyds TSB – as well as those nominated by the IPC, the British Paralympic Association, and the three sponsors.