The Queen's Commonwealth
Essay Competition

2019 Competition: 'A Connected Commonwealth'

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world's oldest schools’ international writing programme, run by The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. Every year, the competition receives entries from thousands of young people across the Commonwealth, in which they express their thoughts on the past, opinions of the present and hopes for the future. The competition is a highly regarded and popular international education project, run in partnership with CLANED. Past winners include Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore and writers Elspeth Huxley and Mei Fong. For 2019, the competition will explore A Connected Commonwealth.

Building on the 2018 theme of Towards a Common Future, this year’s topics ask young writers to explore the shared values, interests and experiences across the network, and how they can use this to make positive change. It calls on young people to consider the potential of the Commonwealth in strengthening the cast and varied links between citizens. We want to hear from all young people, regardless of schooling, education or region.  All stories and voices are important.



Born between 2 June 2000 and 1 June 2005 (14-18 years of age)

  1. ‘You are the most optimistic, connected generation the world has ever known.’ HRH The Duke of Sussex. How can you use Commonwealth connections for positive change?
  2. Connected by the oceans; can we work together to protect the environment?
  3. ‘We are all now connected by the Internet’ – Stephen Hawking. What does the future hold for humankind?
  4. Family, Community, Nation, Commonwealth. What are the opportunities for shared, sustainable growth?


Born on or after 2 June 2005 (under 14 years of age)

  1. My cultural connections.
  2. An overseas visitor is coming to your town for the first time.  How would you connect with them?
  3. A place I feel connected to.
  4. The Commonwealth connects people across borders - what can we learn from our neighbours?

Judges described entries to the competition in 2018 as ‘‘fantastically imaginative’, ‘hopeful’, ‘quite exceptional’ and ‘passionate’. We expect a similarly high calibre of writing for 2019. Keep up to date with the Competition on Twitter and Facebook.


The competition is open to nationals and residents of all Commonwealth countries and territories, as well as residents of The Gambia, the Maldives and Zimbabwe aged 18 and under and runs from Monday 5 November until 1 June 2019.

Residents of non-Commonwealth countries whose entries are submitted through their local RCS branch are also eligible to enter.

Please complete an entry form in block capitals and attach it to the front of your essay. Please submit it to by 1st June 2019.

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 of educational and cultural events. For more information about the competition, please see Terms and Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions.


Four young writers from the Nordic-Baltic region are receive the first Gold and Silver Awards in the region for their entries in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018. The competition is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing competition is from 2018 also open to young people in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.

The Winners produced highly original and thought-provoking short stories on such varied topics as the impact of environmental damage on future generations, educational inequality, and the competing concepts of Wealth, Freedom, Health andHappiness.

  • Senior Category Gold Finalist, Mekyle Ali Qadir, is a Pakistani national and lives in Tampere, Finland. Read Mekyle's entry.
  • Junior Category Gold Finalist, Minea Suominen, is a Finnish national from Naantali, Finland. Read Minea's entry.
  • Senior Category Silver Finalist, Mikaela Sandelin, is a Finnish national from Kaarina, Finland. Read Mikaela's entry.
  • Junior Category Silver Finalist Myy Käyhkö, is a Finnish national from Savonlinna, Finland. Read Myy's entry.

Entries were assessed by volunteer judges all based in Finland. Harri Jaskari MP commented, ‘All participants had special personal opinions about life and happiness’. Siri Kolu stated, regarding the senior winner, ‘the essay is well composed and very impressive’ and for theJunior winning essay ‘A charming piece of writing’.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the essays are not necessarily shared or endorsed by The Royal Commonwealth Society.

inaugural nordic-baltic judging

  • Minna Ekblom, Leadership coach 
  • Harri Jaskari MP, Member of Finnish Parliament
  • Siri Kolu, Finnish Children’s Author 
  • Kaj Kunnas, Finnish sports journalist
  • Elina Lepomäki MP, Member of Finnish Parliament 
  • Arto Nyberg, Finnish TV-journalist 
  • HE Blanche Olbery, Ambassador of Malaysia to Finland
  • Nasima Razmyar, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki
  • Markus Selin, Finnish Film Producer
  • Iiro Seppänen, Finnish film maker
  • HE Carmen Smidt, Ambassador of South Africa to Finland
  • Francis Uy, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Canada in Finland


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. 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.