The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition, managed by The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. Every year, it offers all Commonwealth youth aged 18 and under the opportunity to express their hopes for the future, opinions of the present, and thoughts on the past, through the written word. The competition is used by individuals and teachers to build confidence, develop writing skills, support creativity and encourage critical thinking, using literacy to empower young people to become global citizens.
All entrants receive a Certificate of Participation and one Winner and Runner-up from both the Senior and Junior categories will be invited to attend Winners' Week in London. Past winners include author Elspeth Huxley, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mei Fong, and the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong.
Towards a Common Future
Building upon the 2017 theme of 'A Commonwealth for Peace', this year’s theme 'Towards a Common Future' and its topicsask young writers to explore how the Commonwealth can address global challenges and work to create a better future for all citizens through sub-themes of sustainability, safety, prosperity and fairness, in line with the theme of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.
Download the 2018 Flyer
Born between 2nd June 1999 and 31st May 2004 (14-18 years of age)
- The road to a safer future.
- How does education contribute to a fairer future?
- ‘Healthy, Wealthy, Happy, and Free’: is one more important than the others?
- Future generations have rights too, which must be defended. Discuss.
Born after 31st May 2004 (under 14 years of age)
- What does a 'safer future' mean to you and your community?
- Write a recipe for a common future: what ingredients will you need? What is the best method for making it? What will it look like?
- ‘A Day in the Life’. Imagine you are your country’s Head of Government for the day: how will you build a better future for young people?
- Our Common Earth.
Judges described entries to the competition in 2017 as ‘emotive’ ‘hauntingly assuring’ ’striking’ and as having ‘powerful narratives’, that ‘this letter should be read by everyone’. We expect a similiarly high calibre of writing for 2018.
The competition is open to all citizens and residents of the Commonwealth aged 18 and under until 1 June 2018. All entrants receive a Certificate of Participation and one Winner and Runner-up from the Senior and Junior categories will win a trip to London for a week-long series of educational and cultural events. For more information about the competition, please visit Terms and Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions.
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History of the Essay Competition
The RCS has a rich history of nurturing the creative talents of young people around the Commonwealth. We endeavour to promote literacy, expression and creativity among young people by celebrating excellence and imagination. Run by the RCS since 1883, this international schools’ writing contest – the world's oldest – is a highly regarded and popular international education project.
In 2015, the contest was renamed ‘The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition’, in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s role as both Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society.
Entries will be disqualified if they fail to meet any of the following requirements:
- The competition is open to nationals or residents of all Commonwealth countries and territories, as well as residents of The Gambia, the Maldives and Zimbabwe. Residents of non-Commonwealth countries whose entries are submitted through their local RCS branch are also eligible.
- Entrants must select a Senior or Junior topic depending on their age on 1st May 2017. Senior entrants must be born between 2nd June 1999 and 1st June 2004 (14-18) and Junior entrants must be born after 31st May 2004 (under 14 years of age).
- The maximum word counts are 1,500 words for Senior entries and 750 words for Junior entries. These word limits apply to all topics and all formats (essay, poem, letter, etc). Exceeding the word count will result in automatic disqualification.
- Entries must be written in English.
- Only one entry per participant is allowed. Once an essay is submitted, students/teachers will not have the opportunity to revise it. Please carefully check and improve your writing before submitting the final copy, and also ensure that all supplementary information is filled in correctly (name, contact details, topic number, etc.)
- Plagiarism is not accepted in the competition. Every year a number of students are disqualified because they are suspected of plagiarism. Please see ourguide to plagiarism before submitting.
- The final copy submitted for the competition must be the entrant's own work, and cannot be excessively corrected or improved by another person. This does not rule out input or assistance from others but does exclude group entries.
- Essays can only be uploaded as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or in PDF format (.pdf). The online platform does not accept Google Docs (.gdoc), Pages documents (.pages) or other word processor formats. Note: if we are unable to find or open your essay file (either through an incorrect format or upload error), your entry may not be counted in the competition.
- All online entries must be submitted before midnight (GMT) on 1st June 2018; any offline entries must arrive at RCS London by 1st May 2018
- All entrants retain the copyright rights that they have for the pieces they submit, but by entering The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, each contestant consents to the use of his/her name, and/or pieces or parts thereof in any advertisements, educational materials, corpus research or media and publicity carried out or produced by the Royal Commonwealth Society and its local branches without further notice or compensation. The Royal Commonwealth Society can publish or decline to publish; use or decline to use, any submitted pieces at the Royal Commonwealth Society’s sole discretion.
- The RCS suggests that entrants retain a copy of their original work as regretfully we are unable to return or provide copies of submissions.
- The RCS retains the right to change the prize of the competition if circumstances make this necessary.
- The RCS will only be able to publish on our website and in our literature content that is appropriate for a wide and diverse audience, in line with our own policies. Entrants are encouraged to consider this in relation to their use of language when entering the competition.
All certificates are generated online and the RCS does not send any certificates in the post. You will be given a reference number when you submit your essay. It is very important that you keep this number is a safe place as you will need it to download your certificate. Teachers, please remember to retain the reference numbers for each of your students.
Having trouble submitting your essay? Contactcompetitions@thercs.org
Issued: February 2017