Since 1883, the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition has offered young people a place to explore their ideas, providing a platform for creativity and literacy. Today, tens of thousands of participants from over 50 nations enter the contest each year, and I was lucky enough to be named the Senior Winner for 2022.

During a celebration week in London, I had the opportunity to meet and attend workshops from renowned authors such as Irenosen Okojie and Gyles Brandreth, as well as several important figures, like the Speaker of the House of Commons. We visited sites rich and heavy with history, including Shakespeare’s birthplace, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey.

At the end of the week, I had the honour of attending an award ceremony at Buckingham Palace, where I met the Queen Consort, Camilla. Whilst I was enthralled by new sights and inspirational figures of both the past and the present, what I enjoyed the most was the company of the other talented young writers who had come on this trip with me. As we were all from different countries and backgrounds, it was eye-opening to hear of the political conflict in Uganda and Lebanon, of traditions in India, and inspiring to see how passionate they were about writing and conveying a message to be heard.

In her speech at Buckingham Palace, the Queen Consort touched on the power of the written word—its ability to evoke emotion and connect people together. In light of this, I hope many more students write and continue to write, and are unafraid to voice what is important to them. 

Sawooly Li, Year 13