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. In 2018, 12,000 young people from across the Commonwealth entered the Competition - congratulations to all! This year’s theme invited young people to share their ideas on the topic of ‘Towards a Common Future’. Judges were impressed by the diversity and ingenuity of entries and described the pieces as ‘fantastically imaginative’, ‘hopeful’ and ‘passionate’.
We're delighted to share the great achievements of this year's entrants. Across every region of the Commonwealth, approximately one third of aspiring young writers received Gold, Silver and Bronze awards from the judges, in recognition of their hard work and talent.
To celebrate the efforts of all participants, every single entry receives a certificate. Certificates can be downloaded as a PDF file from the online platform. Simply enter your reference number in the field labelled ‘Did you win an award or take part in 2018?’ and the certificate will download automatically.
Are you a teacher whose school participated this year? Your school can get a certificate too! Get in touch with our Competition's team to find out more.
Zahra Hussain, Ng Woon Neng, Janine Shum and Floria Gu – Winners and Runners-up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018.
In recognition of their outstanding achievement, they will visit London to take part in a week of educational and cultural events, including an Awards Ceremony which takes place at Buckingham Palace.
Senior Winner: Zahra Hussain, Lahore, Pakistan
Zahra’s short story ‘Hues of Red’ is a heart-breaking portrayal of child marriage and domestic violence in a traditional South Asian community, yet with an uplifting message of hope for a new generation. She entered the competition as a student of Lahore Grammar School International. On hearing that she had won, Zahra said: "I'm mostly in disbelief, because it's such a huge honour, but once I get past that I think I'll be incredibly excited". She enjoys writing because: "Your writing style can be as diverse as you want it to be - it’s a very unique kind of freedom, and I absolutely adore it". Read Zahra's entry.
Senior Runner-up: Ng Woon Neng, Singapore
Ng’s imaginative short story ‘An Odd Company’ personifies the competing concepts of Wealth, Health, Freedom and Happiness, imagining them sparring in an intellectual battle for supremacy reminiscent of the bickering of Ancient Greek gods. A student at Nanyang Girls' High School, she enjoys: "living in fantasy worlds and dreaming" through reading and creative writing, as well as the study of real-world history. She says: "I have to admit that the real world, for all its flaws and complexities, holds boundless inspiration too." Ng is surprised but incredibly grateful to have been chosen as the Senior Runner-Up. Read Ng's entry.
Junior Winner: Janine Shum, Singapore
Janine’s poem ‘Our Common World: Two Voices’ explores educational inequality through the voices of two 12 year-old girls – one from Afghanistan and one from Singapore. It takes inspiration from the life of Malala Yousafzai, opening with her famous quote 'One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.' She is a student at National Junior College, Singapore. As well as writing, she loves creating animations and looking after her dog. Her favourite books include 'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness and 'The Giver' by Lois Lowdry, as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' series. Read Janine's entry.
Floria Gu, Vancouver Canada
Floria’s haunting poem ‘Inheritance’ paints a vivid picture of a dystopian future in which unchecked environmental devastation has left a scorched and polluted Earth in its wake. A student of the Transition Program at the University of British Colombia, she entered the competition: "because I wished to practice engaging with global issues, and take advantage of the opportunity to develop my own opinions on the future." She enjoys writing stories and poems, as well as participating in maths contests. She hopes to pursue a career in science in the future: "so that I can help engineer new technologies and solve the problems people face". Read Floria's entry.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the essays are not necessarily shared or endorsed by The Royal Commonwealth Society