In preparation for The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition 2017, The Royal Commonwealth Society asked the Winners and Runners-up of the 2016 competition why they think their peers should take part this year. From the simple invitation to write, to the opportunity to contribute to something far greater than yourself, their answers may just inspire a young person you know, or even you, to enter the competition.

Inessa Rajah, Senior Winner 2016

The most obvious reason for entering the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is that it provides you with the opportunity to write. Writing, be it creatively or critically, stretches your brain cells in a special way and the scintillating topics issued by the competition each year are always thought-provoking and relevant. Additionally, this competition is a way to make your voice heard. As a young person, it is easy to feel marginalised and insignificant, but it is essential - now more than ever - to forge your own opinions and share them with the world. Your stories matter.  So enter, write and have fun!

Gauri Kumar, Junior Winner 2016

Why should you enter The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition? For me, at least, that question doesn't warrant a very complex answer - but it has a very important one. When I entered the essay competition, almost a year ago, I had no luck with contests of any kind. I still maintain the sentiment that I would have never written anything if my school didn't force us to, and all I was aiming for was an A, not a tour of Buckingham palace. There was no way, in my mind at least, that I could beat out thousands of entrants for top spot. But, somehow, I did beat them, and I did win. And thanks to that, I've experienced amazing things - meeting a Duchess, visiting Parliament, and I've gained an intangible sense of confidence in myself and my work. So, why should you enter The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition? Because your voice, while it may not seem so, is important, and people want to hear it. Because you'll never know the true measure of your abilities until you put them to the test.  Because you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Esther Mungalaba, Senior Runner-up 2016

I think entering the competition is a great idea, for so many reasons (I'd do it over and over again if I could). I'll list just two. First, I think every writer loves a great challenge. The process teaches you so much and draws so much out of you that by the time your final piece is prepared, you're a little better at what you do. Second, because very little beats the feeling you get when you know that just by entering this competition, your talent and your work becomes a valid contribution to something far greater than just you in this world.

Tan Wan Gee, Junior Runner-up 2016

I feel that entering the competition is a very good thing, as it gives writers the opportunity to explore different topics relevant to the real world. This competition also allows writers to practise and hone their skills by exploring different styles of writing. Through this, writers are also given the encouragement to continue refining their craft and reaching greater heights. Beyond technical skills, writers are also able to tap into their emotions, by considering the issues that are ever present in our world today. With the spike in terror events in recent years, along with how information is at our fingertips, it is easy to become desensitised to these real-world issues. As such, this competition will allow young people to consider these issues, and be motivated to contribute to resolving these. 

Feeling inspired to take part? You can read more about The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2017 and take a look at the winning pieces from Inessa, Gauri, Esther and Wan Gee on the competition page. The theme for this year's competition is A Commonwealth for Peace and the deadline is 1 May 2017