Two Singaporean students attended a reception and award ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday (Oct 26) in recognition of their achievements after they were awarded the Junior Winner and Junior Runner-up prizes for The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2016.
Gauri Kumar and Tan Wan Gee, both 14, received their certificates from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
The writers were flown to London for Winners’ Week — a week-long programme of cultural and educational activities including a tour of Parliament and a day trip to Cambridge.
The essays were centred around the theme “An Inclusive Commonwealth”, and both Gauri and Wan Gee’s essays were chosen from nearly 7,500 junior entries, said the Royal Commonwealth Society in a media statement.
The award ceremony was attended by Deputy High Commissioner of Singapore, Mr Weiwen Chia and other prominent guests including the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland.
Gauri, who is a pupil at Tanglin Trust School, called the trip “amazing” and Buckingham palace “breathtaking”. She wrote Untitled, an essay that explored the challenges of reconciling different identities after struggling to communicate with her relatives because of a language barrier. “The topic of my essay is a very pertinent issue with my family and it comes up a lot,” she said.
Tan’s work, Are We Really So Different?/Dear Santa, is a poem that looks at societal expectations. She said the Duchess of Cornwall had asked her about the inspiration for her poem. “She was incredibly nice,” Tan added.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition was founded in 1883 and is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing contest. The competition is sponsored by Cambridge University Press and received approximately 13,500 entries from almost every country in the Commonwealth.
Claire Whitaker, the Chair of Trustees of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said: “The success of this year’s competition is a testament to the continuing importance and relevance of the Commonwealth and its values for young people.”