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The BBC World Service’s flagship human interest programme Outlook featured the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in its afternoon broadcast on Thursday 23 November. Its theme was how the power of words can change lives and the broadcast is available to listen to on the BBC World Service Outlook website. The broadcast included interviews with this year’s winners, readings of their work, and a recording from the Awards Ceremony held at Buckingham Palace on 21 November in the presence of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall. The competition archives are held by the Royal Commonwealth Society Department at Cambridge University Library and a display of historic prize winning essays was exhibited at the ceremony. 

The RCS first established the competition in 1883 and it has become the world's oldest and largest international schools' writing contest, reflecting the society's enduring aim to foster the creative talent of young people throughout the Commonwealth by encouraging literacy, self-expression and imagination. This year the contest attracted over 12,000 entries from virtually all member nations of the Commonwealth. 

The Outlook broadcast features a visit to the University Library by senior competition judge Vicki Wienand. She describes her tour of the archive, discusses a sample of notable historic prize winning essays, and offers her personal reflections upon the importance of the competition in expressing the views of engaged, articulate young adults throughout the Commonwealth, past and present. The University Library has digitised 336 prize winning essays in pdf format on its digital repository Apollo and welcomes researchers who wish to consult the archive. Click here to view the Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Competition collection.