Commonwealth Essay Competition winners with The Duchess of Cornwall

Commonwealth Essay Competition winners with The Duchess of Cornwall

Throughout Winners’ Week anticipation had been building for Wednesday, when HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, on behalf of HM The Queen, Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, would host a Reception at Buckingham Palace in honour of this year’s winners.

Looking smart, the winners gathered in an excited group outside Buckingham Palace, before presenting their invitations to the policemen and crossing the forecourt of Buckingham Palace as the crowds outside looked on.

The winners outside Buckingham Palace

The winners outside Buckingham Palace

Once inside, the winners were ushered upstairs and taken on a tour of the Royal Household, learning about the history of the building and the ornaments, statues and pieces of art adorning the halls.

At midday, the winners were led back to the Throne Room, where guests, including established writers from across the Commonwealth, would soon be gathering for the reception.

As the doors opened and guests started arriving, it was a wonderful opportunity for the young winners to share their stories and meet some of the competition’s supporters, including partner Cambridge University Press, and sponsor The Queen’s Trust.  Also present and showing their support for the competition were the High Commissioner for Canada in the UK, the High Commissioner for Singapore in the UK, and the Deputy High Commissioner for the British High Commission in Pakistan.

As HRH The Duchess of Cornwall arrived, a hush fell over the room and Royal Commonwealth Society Director, Mike Lake OBE, welcomed guests and invited Her Royal Highness to make the presentations to the young winners.

Raniya, Max, Selina and Leah were each presented with a certificate and a commemorative pen, before having the opportunity to speak to Her Royal Highness about the competition and their achievements.

Raniya Hosain, the Senior Winner, with The Duchess of Cornwall

Raniya Hosain, the Senior Winner, with The Duchess of Cornwall

Max de Bourcier, the Junior Winner, with The Duchess of Cornwall

Max de Bourcier, the Junior Winner, with The Duchess of Cornwall

Selina Xu, the Senior Runner-up, with The Duchess of Cornwall

Selina Xu, the Senior Runner-up, with The Duchess of Cornwall

Leah Annia Plante-Wiener with The Duchess of Cornwall

Leah Annia Plante-Wiener with The Duchess of Cornwall

Following the presentation, Her Royal Highness mixed with assembled guests, and the winners met a number of the panel judges who were involved in making the awards.

The Duchess of Cornwall meeting essay competition judges

The Duchess of Cornwall meeting essay competition judges

Max also met CERN scientist, Dr Tom Whyntie, who had written a letter in response to Max's entry about being a team player. To read Max's entry and Dr Tom Whyntie's response, click here.

Max with The Duchess of Cornwall and CERN scientist, Dr Tom Whyntie

Max with The Duchess of Cornwall and CERN scientist, Dr Tom Whyntie

As well as a celebratory event, the reception was an opportunity to launch the 2015 competition, re-named as ‘The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition’, in honour of HM The Queen’s role as both Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

The theme for the 2015 competition is next year’s Commonwealth theme, ‘A Young Commonwealth’, and the Royal Commonwealth Society is inviting young people to share their hopes and concerns for the future. The deadline for entries is 1st May 2015. Find out more.

Once guests had left, the young writers had a short time for reflection, before heading on to the afternoon’s activities – a tour of the BBC. Still on a high from the royal reception, the winners were treated to a tour of Broadcasting House, and even had a go at reading the news!

Visit to the BBC - Day Three

Visit to the BBC - Day Three

The day ended with a group meal, where winners, parents and RCS staff exchanged highlights and stories from the day. Among the chatter, all were agreed on one thing – this is a day they would never forget!