Commonwealth Essay Competition Topics

21 APRIL 2017

The Royal Commonwealth Society, in partnership with Cambridge University Press, invites young writers to enter the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2017, which explores the theme A Commonwealth for Peace.

Winners and runners-up from Junior and Senior categories will be rewarded with a trip to London, including a special Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

The competition is the world’s oldest international writing competition, promoting excellence in literacy since 1883. The contest is open to any resident or national of a Commonwealth country aged 18 and under.

It aims to provide a platform for young people from diverse backgrounds to express their views on the meaning, process and importance of peace. Entries can take any form, for example essays, folk tales, scripts or poems. Photos and drawings are also encouraged.

Director of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Michael Lake CBE, said: "Peace is at the heart of the Commonwealth as one of the core articles of the Commonwealth Charter. This year’s topic of ‘A Commonwealth for Peace’ asks young writers to explore peace at every level: from the personal to the political to the pan-Commonwealth."

The competition received around 13,500 entries in 2016, proving its most successful year to date. Building on last year’s topic, An Inclusive Commonwealth, the 2017 theme surrounding peace hopes to attract young writers from the UK and around the globe.

Cambridge University Press has sponsored the contest since 2013. Rod Smith, Managing Director of Education at Cambridge University Press, said: "The Royal Commonwealth Society shares our vision of empowerment through education, and we’re thrilled to be sponsoring The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition once again. We were astounded by the exceptional standard of entries in last year’s competition and are looking forward to celebrating exciting new work and to finding new voices from across the Commonwealth in 2017."

Participants can enter individually or with their school. All entries must be in English and are to be submitted online. The competition will be open for submission until 1 May 2017.

More information about the competition including the entry rules and essay topics can be found here.

The flyer can be downloaded here for display in classrooms, to share with friends or interested parties, and for reference to the topics.

Enter The CompetitionDownload The Flyer

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The Royal Commonwealth Society has launched “The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2017”, focusing on the topic of “A Commonwealth for Peace”. The competition is open to all citizens and residents of the Commonwealth aged 18 and under. This year’s topics ask for a more active understanding of the role of the Commonwealth as a network of and for democracy, Human Rights, and peace. Winners will get a number of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards, visits to Cambridge University, a trip to London and much more benefits.

The Royal Commonwealth Society, founded in 1868, is a network of individuals and organizations committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens across the world.


  • All citizens and residents of the Commonwealth aged 18 and under are eligible to enter the competition.
  • Special dispensation applies to entrants from Hong Kong, Ireland, The Gambia and Zimbabwe, who are also eligible
  • Entrants must select a Senior or Junior topic depending on their age on 1st May 2017. Senior entrants must be born between 2nd May 1998 and 1st May 2003 (14-18) and junior entrants must be born after 1st May 2003 (under 14 years of age).

How to Apply:

For applying the essay contest, the candidates must submit an essay according to the given guidelines:

  • Junior Category: Born after 1st May 2003 (under 14 years)
  1. What is in your Toolbox for Peace?
  2. My peaceful place.
  3. How can children and young people come together to build a peaceful society?
  4. ‘Peace cannot be learnt from a book or from religion. You have to reach out and touch the nations.’ How does this relate to the Commonwealth?
  • Senior Category: Born between 2nd May 1998 and 1st May 2003 (14-18 years)
  1. Peace.
  2. Should you fight for peace?
  3. Kofi Annan said ‘Education is, quite simply, peace-building by another name.’ Do you agree? Answer with reference to your country and/or the Commonwealth.
  4. What is the cost of peace?

Essay Guidelines:

  • The maximum word counts are 1,500 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
  • Entries must be written in English.
  • Only one essay per entrant is allowed
  • Essays can only be uploaded as a Microsoft Word document (.doc) or in PDF format (.pdf).

Submitting Details:

In order to submit your essay, you will need to register, making sure to complete all the mandatory fields. The link is:

Financial aid and Award Money:

  • One Winner and Runner-up will be chosen from each category. Winners and Runners-up will be flown to London for a week of educational and cultural events, culminating in a special Awards Ceremony.
  • A number of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards will be given in both the Senior and Junior categories, rewarding excellence in writing. All entrants will receive a Certificate of Participation.

Application Deadline:

All entries must be submitted before midnight (BST) on May 1, 2017.

Link for More Information:

Contact Information:

Having trouble submitting your essay? You can contact

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