Royal Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015, based on the theme of ‘A Young Commonwealth’, met with a record response.

The Royal Commonwealth Society received more than 13,000 entries from over 600 schools in 49 Commonwealth countries and territories. Both the Senior and the Junior judging panels were impressed by the quality of the entries.

This year the top Winners and Runners-up come from Cyprus, Tristan da Cunha, Botswana and the Cayman Islands;additionally the judges selected one additional Senior entrant and two additional Junior entrants to receive special commendations. In total over 3,000 participants won an award, Gold, Silver or Bronze.

In recognition of their achievement, the Winners and Runners-Up will be flown to London in October for ‘Winners’ Week’, five days of cultural and educational activities, culminating in a special award event.

All Gold, Silver and Bronze winners can download certificates from the RCS website and entrants who did not receive an award this year receive a certificate of participation. Click here for more information.
Congratulations to all winners and our thanks to sponsors Cambridge University Press for their support in 2015.

Senior Winner

Paraschos Cant, aged 16, Limassol, Cyprus

Sixteen-year-old Paraschos Cant has been named the Senior Winner of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015. Writing on the essay topic: ‘Youth versus experience’, Paraschos’s entry is a beautifully structured letter to the leaders of the world. With a strong and upfront critical voice, it cleverly compares countries and citizens to classrooms and classmates but manages to do so with light-hearted humour and youthful naivety. Read Paraschos’ winning entry.

Paraschos is currently studying at Pascal English School in Limassol, Cyprus. With a British Father and a Cypriot Mother, Paraschos says that his identity is quite international and that he enjoys the best of both cultures. His hobbies include spending time on the internet, playing the piano and guitar, and being in the company of his friends. However, he also loves outdoor activities, going to the beach, and is especially interested in health and fitness – particularly in boxing and calisthenics. He has also recently taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which he found to be a great learning experience.

The judging panel said: “A sophisticated and cleverly crafted challenge to the leaders of the world, Paraschos’s letter subtly asks those with political experience and power to honour the hopes of the young.”

Senior Runner-Up

Tawanda Mulalu, age 18, Gaborone, Botswana

Eighteen-year-old Tawanda Mulalu has been named the Senior Runner-up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015. Writing on the competition’s ‘A Young Commonwealth’ theme, Tawanda’s entry is a mature and informed essay which shows a great awareness of the relationship between the physical and life sciences and the future of Africa. Its humble voice is balanced with a marked confidence, and has great ambitions.Read Tawanda’s winning entry.

Tawanda is a student at the Maru-a-Pula School in Gaborone, Botswana. Whilst he has a strong identity as a Botswanan –‘Botswana is his heart’, he quotes – he also believes he has a wider perspective so that the ‘Universe is his mind’. He is an aspiring physicist and a poet, and his interests also extend musically: to him, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is the ‘greatest achievement of humankind’ and he enjoys rapping freestyle with his friends around his school.

The judging panel said: “Tawanda describes himself as having ‘Small chest. Big Dreams’. In his essay he dreams big about the scientific future for Africa and his part in that. His thoughtful analysis of the power of those dreams and his arresting descriptions make this a prize-winning entry.”

Junior Winner

Nathan Swain, age 11, Tristan da Cunha

Eleven-year-old Nathan Swain has been named the Junior Winner of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015. Writing on the essay topic: ‘I am the future’ Nathan’s entry is a specific, succinct and clearly articulated account of generational exchange, and of the significance that the skills and lessons passed down from his father hold for him, his surroundings and his community. Read Nathan’s winning entry.

Nathan is currently a student at St Mary’s School, Tristan da Cunha. Nathan likes fishing, swimming and helping his dad to make things. He also loves riding his bicycle around Tristan because of the freedom it offers.

The judging panel said: “A thoughtful and deceptively simple appreciation of the carpentry skills that can be learnt from the older generation and of the impact those skills will have on the future of the island of Tristan. Nathan finds an authentic voice that reflects the sense of being a part of a past, present and future community.”

Junior Runner-Up

Martina Watler, age 13, George Town, Cayman Islands

Thirteen-year-old Martina Watler has been named the Junior Runner-Up in of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015. Writing on the competition’s ‘A Young Commonwealth’ theme, Martina’s entry is an accomplished piece of work that is vulnerable yet also brave in its examination of a young girl’s inner world, her anxieties and her dreams.Read Martina’s winning entry.

Martina enjoys drawing, reading and ‘researching certain things’. She loves Maths and Science, wants to become an orthodontist or a forensic pathologist and hopes to inspire young minds.

The judging panel said: “Martina writes powerfully from the point of view of an anxious teenager trying to cope with the intersection between her view of herself and her mother’s view of her. Her vocabulary and phrasing successfully reflect the tensions in her world. The essay is poignantly amusing too.”


Senior Awards

Highly Commended Awards

Chelsia Low, age 14, Singapore.

Read Chelsia’s entry

Gold Awards

Download the list of Senior Gold Awards

Silver Awards

Download the list of Senior Silver Awards

Bronze Awards

Download the list of Senior Bronze Awards


Junior Awards

Highly Commended Awards

Adil Khan, age 13, Chittagong Grammar School, Bangladesh.

Read Adil’s entry

Marcus Yang Juan Hun, age 13, Anglo-Chinese School, Singapore.

Read Marcus’ entry

Gold Awards

Download the list of Junior Gold Awards

Silver Awards

Download the list of Junior Silver Awards

Bronze Awards

Download the list of Junior Bronze Awards

Source: The Royal Commonwealth Society (

Submission Deadline: 1st May 2016

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2016 is now open for entries; submissions can be made until 1st May 2016.

This year’s theme invites young people to think about whether or not it is possible to be living responsibly and tolerantly in an increasingly interconnected Commonwealth.

Through the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition, the Royal Commonwealth Society provides an opportunity for young people to share their stories and have their voices heard.

The overarching theme for 2016 is ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, which is also the 2016 Commonwealth Year theme, and a topical theme for today’s youth. Both Senior and Junior topics give young people the opportunity to think about aspects of the theme such as: the significance of community; the importance of diversity and difference; the question of belonging; the values of tolerance, respect and understanding; and the sense of shared responsibility that exists within the Commonwealth today.

The topics are a chance to develop critical thinking and to express views in a creative manner.


Born after 1st May 2002 (under 14 years)

1 Imagine inviting a stranger to your country. How would you welcome them?

2 My ideal community.

3 Are we really so different?

4 Tales of an ‘insider/outsider’.


Born between 2nd May 1997 and 1st May 2002 (14-18 years)

1 Let them in.

2 How can you balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the crowd?

3 The wealth we have in common.

4 Is it possible to have an inclusive and tolerant society?


Submission Requirements:

  • The Competition is open to nationals or residents of all Commonwealth countries and territories.
  • Entrants must select a Senior or Junior topic depending on their age on 1st May 2016.
  • Only one essay per entrant is allowed.
  • Entries must be written in English.
  • The maximum word counts are 1500 words for Senior entries and 750 words for Junior entries. These word limits apply to all topics and all formats (essay, poem, letter, etc). Exceeding the word count will result in automatic disqualification.
  • Plagiarism: Every year a number of students are disqualified because they are suspected of plagiarism.
  • The final copy submitted for the competition MUST be the entrant’s own work, and cannot be unduly corrected or improved by another person.
  • Essays can only be uploaded in either word doc. or pdf format.


  • Prizes have traditionally been awarded only to the first prize winners in the Senior and Junior categories and also vary year by year. This means RCS is not able to confirm what the prizes will be until after the winners are announced in September 2016.
  • Past prizes have included certificates, resources for winner’s school, visits to Cambridge University, a trip to London and a week of activities, work experience at international organisations, and having your entry featured in worldwide media.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the 2016 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition


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