The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition. Run by the Royal Commonwealth Society, 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.

Every year, thousands of young people submit their writing on a given topic, and one winner and runner-up will be chosen from each age group. Winners and Runners-up will be flown to London for a week of educational and cultural events, culminating in a special Awards Ceremony.

The competition is open to all citizens and residents of Commonwealth countries, and to residents of Zimbabwe. That means if you are under 18 and from The Gambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia or Rwanda, this competition is for you.

The benefits of taking part

Benefits don’t end for the winners! Every young writer who submits their entry correctly will have their piece read by a judge somewhere in the Commonwealth and will receive a Certificate of Participation. Every participant will also have the chance to win a Gold, Silver or Bronze Award (which will be shown on your Certificate) – a great confidence boost and perfect for job or further education applications.

For teachers and librarians, the competition is a fantastic opportunity to motivate young writers, encouraging them to practice their English and building their confidence.

Increasing participation from Africa

The Royal Commonwealth Society wants to hear from young people from across the Commonwealth and from all walks of life, but far too few African young people are taking part. We’re urging young people across Africa to be heard and share their voices on a global platform, through the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.

Book Aid International and -The Royal Commonwealth Society are working together to ensure more young people across African Commonwealth countries take part. As librarians and teachers, you work with talented young people every day – and this is their chance to have their voices heard while building the CVs and developing new opportunities for the future.

The RCS has created a flyer and poster for you to use which can be downloaded below. Copies of these materials have also been included in your shipments:

Flyer – The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2021

Poster – Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2021

You can also use this lesson plan template to help young people brainstorm their ideas and write their entries.

You may also find the following presentations helpful:
Overview presentation
Presentation juniors 
Presentation for seniors

How to take part

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 30th June 2021. The presentation above has full details of how to take part and you can also use the included posters and cheat sheets to publicise the competition and engage young readers. You can also find out more by contacting the Royal Commonwealth Society:,