Congratulations to everyone who took part in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2016.
This year's competition was the most successful to date, with approaching 13,500 entries from nearly every Commonwealth country. The Senior and Junior judges were deeply impressed by the entries, describing them variously as ‘inspirational’, ‘brilliantly written’, and ‘mind-blowing’.
The 2016 winners, with HRH Duchess of Cornwall, in the throne room at Buckingham Palace at the 2016 Award ceremony, 26 October. (Inessa Rajah was unfortunately unable to attend due to her examination schedule.)
Congratulations to Inessa Rajah, Gauri Kumar, Esther Mungalaba and Tan Wan Gee – Winners and Runners-up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2016. Meet them below:
Senior Winner: Inessa Rajah
Durban, South Africa
Inessa wrote a remarkable short story exploring the difficulty of holding an entitled position in the face of poverty and conflict-induced resettlement. Her piece grapples with the reconciliation and embarrassment of social status. Inessa is a student at Durban Girls' College and enjoys reading, writing, playing football and learning piano. She has an older brother and a dog named Sally. She entered the competition as she felt, in her words, that it gave her a platform to write about a relevant, thought-provoking topic.
Junior Winner: Gauri Kumar
Gauri explored the difficulty of coming from an immigrant family but being unable to communicate with her relatives due to a language barrier. She discussed reconciling different identities in a poignant and mature manner through the use of language. Gauri is currently a student at Tanglin Trust School, but at the time of writing attended the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School. Gauri has a special interest in psychology and history, and enjoys learning as much about as these subjects as possible.
Senior Runner-up: Esther Mungalaba
Esther wrote a balanced and discursive essay about “Europe’s Migrant Crisis”, providing a mature assessment of the situation. Her essay was well written and argued precisely. Esther graduated from Kasisi Girls Secondary School in 2014 and is currently waiting to be accepted in the University of Zambia. She enjoys reading, writing, talking, jazz music and the idea of travelling. She is the oldest of five children.
Junior Runner-up: Tan Wan Gee
Tan Wan Gee entered a striking poem in the form of a letter to the Christmas figure Santa Claus. The poem strongly advocated the importance of equality. Wan Gee is a student at Temasek Junior College and enjoys poetry, traditional art, and hand-lettering. She is also an aspiring polyglot, currently learning Latin and Italian in addition to her native English and Chinese.
Please note that the views of the essays submitted are not necessarily shared or endorsed by The Royal Commonwealth Society or Cambridge University Press.
Watch Gauri, Esther and Wan Gee read their award-winning entries at Marlborough House below. These recordings are presented with thanks to the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Gauri Kumar, Untitled
Esther Mungalaba, Let them in
Tan Wan Gee, Dear Santa