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The Royal Commonwealth Society launches the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2022

By Francesca Makey

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, established in 1883, is the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools. The competition takes place every year and is open to all young people up to the age of 18. There are two categories: Senior 14-18 and Junior, Under 14, each with a word limit of 1,500 and 750 words respectively. .

Each year, young people are invited to write on a theme that explores Commonwealth values ​​and principles, fostering an empathetic and open-minded worldview in the next generation of Commonwealth leaders. Themes tend to focus on current affairs, especially those affecting young people today, with some of the newer themes being; environment, inclusion, the role of youth leadership and gender equality. This is a great opportunity for young people to have their voices heard and recognized and to express their views on pressing issues that they are passionate about.

This year, in her Platinum Jubilee Year, Her Majesty The Queen will celebrate 70 years at the helm of the Commonwealth. The Queen’s seven decades of service are an inspiring example of the unwavering commitment and important contribution we can all make to our societies. The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2022 will therefore ask entrants to explore the positive impact that can be achieved through selfless dedication and commitment to our Commonwealth communities. This year’s theme is “Our Commonwealth”.

The final theme will consist of eight different topics: four for the senior category and four for the junior category, and participants must choose one topic to write about. This allows attendees to have some element of guidance when it comes to planning their entry.

Subjects proposed for the senior category:
1. Imagine you are a Head of Government giving a speech to your counterparts at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda. Write a speech that highlights what you think is a priority for collective action within the Commonwealth.
2. Committed to the Commonwealth.
3. Her Majesty The Queen was born in the 20th century, a period which saw enormous social change driven by visionary and committed leaders. Think of an inspirational leader from this period.
4. “While the experiences of the past year have been different across the Commonwealth, moving examples of courage, commitment and selfless devotion to duty have been demonstrated in every nation and territory of the Commonwealth, especially by those who frontline workers who have provided health care and other public services in their communities.- Her Majesty The Queen, Commonwealth Day Message 2021.
Imagine that you are working on the front line. Describe your experience, explain why you serve your community and why your service is important.

Proposed subjects for the junior category
1. Imagine you are a grandparent in 2022. Tell your grandchildren a story about an inspiring person.
2. What do you think are the best ways for young people to serve the Commonwealth?
3. Our Commonwealth Community.
4. Write a job description for a superhero needed to solve a problem in your country.

Although the competition is referred to as a “trial” competition, the medium in which entrants’ work is presented is in fact open; past winners have included letters, poems, and scripts. Personally, this is one of the things that attracts me to this competition. Its diversity really encourages young people to be imaginative and allows free creative expression without constraints, except the number of words which must be respected!

There are numerous awards in each category and each year the winners are invited to travel to the UK for a week of educational and cultural activities, culminating in a special awards ceremony, usually held at the palace of Buckingham, organized by the Royal Commonwealth. Vice Patron of the Society, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall. The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition has seen many of its past winners become prominent leaders themselves, including the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mei Fong and the renowned author, Elspeth Huxley.

While the contest receives thousands of entries a year, we haven’t seen many submissions from Gibraltarian entrants in the past. However, we hope that this year will be different.

This competition is a great way to get our local young people thinking about some of the larger themes and issues that connect them to others in the Commonwealth. Indeed, competitions like these allow us to explore the evolution of our identity and our relationship with the Commonwealth as well as to project their presence on the international scene.

This year’s topics all share a common theme: that of commitment and altruism, and the titles provided are likely to resonate with many of our young people who may be particularly sensitive to some of the topics offered, especially in light of these difficult times that we are currently facing. The need to seek inspiration or connection, and the willingness to show selflessness and commitment at a time when we are challenged to rethink our international relationships with other countries are strong motives for encouraging young people from Gibraltar to express their thoughts and opinions through this contest, while being creative at the same time!

Representing the Royal Commonwealth Society Gibraltar Branch as Literary Officer, I am extremely pleased to see the launch of this year’s competition, and hope to see many young people from Gibraltar getting involved.
Any questions can be directed to: [email protected], and you can find out more about the essay contest by visiting: https://www.royalcwsociety.org/the-qcec.

Are you considering entering the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition? Here are some of my top tips:

1. Familiarize yourself with the contest by visiting the RCS website, reading the Terms & Conditions and FAQs, and browsing past winners’ entries.
2. Choose to respond to only one of the four topics in your category.
3. Think carefully about the form of writing you want to use to respond to the topic. Are you going to write a speech, a letter or maybe a poem?
4. Be sure to use your own voice and words; spurious entries will be disqualified.
5. Be sure to consider spelling, grammar and punctuation when writing your article.
6. Be sure to proofread your work to avoid any mistakes. Read it aloud or have someone else check it so you notice any mistakes.
7. Make sure you have processed your text and formatted it accordingly.
8. Presentation is important: think about the visual aspect of your entrance.
9. Give yourself plenty of time before the closing date to work on your piece.


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