The Duchess of Cornwall this afternoon hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for winners of The Queen’s Commonwealth essay competition on behalf of The Queen.
Camilla, who is Vice-Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society, presented the prizes to winners, at the competition final, which was founded in 1883. The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is, therefore, the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools and was created to promote literacy, expression and creativity among young people throughout the Commonwealth.
During the reception, extracts from the winning pieces were read by authors Geri Horner, Candice Cartey-Williams, Evie Wyld, Ben Okri and William Boyd.
The Duchess of Cornwall handed out the awards, including one for 11-year-old Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa’s piece of work. Kieran was tragically killed in a terrorist attack at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, and the submission was the final piece of schoolwork he completed before his death; it was entered posthumously by his mother, Dhulsini, who attended the reception to receive his certificate.
Other winners were Catherine Wang, senior winner from Canada with her poem ‘Beached’, which follows the heart-breaking experience of three passers-by as they find a whale washed up on a beach. Another was for Veronica Shen, junior winner from Singapore, with her poem ‘Lost’, which details the story of a girl growing up in China as it explores a complicated relationship with the country’s past.
The Senior Runner-up was Nnemdi Ozoemena from Nigeria, with her story ‘Hello’, which is the tale of two young people struggling with issues in their society. The Junior Runner-up was Elise Jensen from Ghana, with her poem ‘A place you feel connected to’, a vivid celebration of her favourite elements of Ghanaian culture, food, dancing, clothing and her ties to the country.
More than 11,000 entries were received from almost every country in the Commonwealth on the this year’s theme, “A Connected Commonwealth”, which called upon young people to consider how they can work to use cultural, technological and environmental connections for positive change across the Commonwealth.
During the event, the Royal revealed that next year’s competition will be launched during her upcoming visit to New Zealand with Prince Charles: “I am delighted to be helping to spread the word, and I am even more delighted that so many young people from across the Commonwealth are rising to the challenge of writing the word!”