MEET THE WINNERS OF THE QUEEN'S COMMONWEALTH ESSAY COMPETITION 2023
The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) is the world's oldest international schools' writing contest, established by the Society in 1883. With thousands of young people taking part each year, it is an important way to recognise achievement, elevate youth voices and develop key skills through creative writing.
Each year, entrants write on a theme that explores the Commonwealth's values, fostering an empathetic world view in the next generation of leaders and encouraging young people to consider new perspectives to the challenges that the world faces. Themes have included the environment, community, inclusion, the role of youth leadership, and gender equality.
In the past decade alone, this high-profile competition has engaged approximately 140,000 young people, over 5,000 schools and thousands of volunteer judges across the Commonwealth.
Celebrating the Commonwealth Year of Youth, the theme, 'A Youth-Powered Commonwealth,’ asked QCEC entrants to explore the power young people hold within the global community and to consider how this power can be harnessed to make a meaningful impact in the world.
We were thrilled to receive a record-breaking 34,924 entries to the QCEC from every Commonwealth region, with the winners and runners-up from India and Malaysia. Find out more about this year's winners below and watch their reactions on discovering this significant achievement!
A creative thinker and a voracious reader, Siddhi Deshmukh is from the city of Mumbai, India. Siddhi is a 17 year-old student currently studying in Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer. She is the President of the English Creative Writing Society, and head of the World Scholar’s Cup club at her school. Siddhi’s role is instrumental in writing and directing the upcoming Annual School Play, and she is also an active member of Mayo College Girls’ School’s English Editorial Team. Siddhi’s passions lie in studying English Literature, History, Psychology, and Political Science, and she plans to pursue her passions in the future.
Siddhi is a canine lover and values her time that she spends with her dog, Snowy, whenever she is home. One of her major interests is films, as she finds them immensely empowering, and she loves watching them with her mother. A huge fan of Hozier, Bowie and the Beatles, Siddhi also finds inspiration in music and books. Her favourite authors include J.R.R Tolkien, Donna Tartt and Oscar Wilde. Siddhi, through her expression of writing, delves into the existential conflict of human existence and her writing is often inspired by the experiences she draws from her personal life.
Ever since Shreeya was young, she was hungry for stories, and always wanted more. Now, at age 12, she loves writing stories as much as reading them.
She currently lives in Panchkula, a cosy town in Northern India. Shreeya has hopped through schools with varied philosophies in USA and India. The different perspectives and thoughts have shaped her into who she is today.
Her passion lies in creating magic from the mundane. She fills empty sketchbooks with whimsical drawings, bakes with whatever's in her kitchen, and delights in skipping stones on a still pond.
For the Queens Commonwealth Essay competition Shreeya wrote a letter to the Little Prince, expressing her admiration for him. She is grateful for her family, friends, and facilitators and wishes all of them could be present for the award ceremony. A special nod to Mr. Gibbs and Mrs. Mckeown, who seeded her love for writing, and her steadfast mom and comical brother, who were there for every story twist.
Yong Sin Kong
Yong Sin Kong is a 15-year-old Form 3 student from Kluang High School. She has been an avid enjoyer of storytelling since her early years, whether it be in the form of literature, cinema, or theatre. Whenever she writes, she draws inspiration from the people she idolises, ranging from Neil Gaiman to Lin Manuel-Miranda.
She is an ardent fan of the Beatles, musicals, 80s coming-of-age films, and dystopian novels. More often than not, you can find her dancing around her room to the latest Taylor Swift album or diligently journaling with glitter gel pens. In Johor, Malaysia, she shares her life with her family and her loyal dog, Mimi.
Isabel Allende once said, “Write what should not be forgotten.”
That is a quote 11-year-old Mitali Ragtah has always lived by on her journey as a young writing enthusiast. In the gloomy winters of 2020, during the lockdown, 9-year-old bookworm Mitali wanted to do something different. So, she brought together some short poetry and voilà, her first book, “Freedom then and now” was written.
Then she wrote her second book in 2022, “Fairy tales with a twist”. It was inspired by all the girls who believed they were weak and powerless and needed a prince to solve all their problems. Mitali strongly believes in and advocates gender equality and for this she has participated in some in-school organisations and many debate clubs.
When she isn’t scribbling away, Mitali likes to hang out with her family and friends, play soccer and perform the classical India dance, Bharatnatyam.
From more than 11,000 entries, four pieces were selected as the Winners and Runners up of The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition 2020. Read them here and watch the Awards Ceremony.