RCSUSA Winners of Essay Competition

RCSUSA was honored to have 22 of our students awarded Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards from The RCS in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition! RCSUSA selected first, second, and third place winners in both the Junior and Senior categories from among our participants. Each of these students will receive a monetary award. Katie Westbrook, our first place winner in the Senior Category, was a Gold Level Finalist in the international competition. Congratulations to all of our participants – we were impressed with all of the entries!


Senior Category:

First Place – Katie Westbrook, Mississippi School of the Arts (currently University of Iowa)

Second Place – Donald Rogers, Oxford High School

Third Place – Sara Beauti, Oak Grove High School


Junior Category:

First Place – Grace O’Grady, Hernando Middle School

Second Place – Navaneeth Srinath, Oxford Middle School

Third Place – Carson May, Northwest Rankin Middle School

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RCS announces winners of Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition

More than 11,000 students from around the world submitted entries for the 2019 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. The RCS has chosen a winner and runner-up from the Junior and Senior Categories. Approximately one-third of entrants were awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards. The United States was honored to have 22 students awarded Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards. The first, second, and third place winners of the RCSUSA Branch will be announced September 13, 2019.


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RCSUSA makes donation to magnet school

RCSUSA made a donation to Barack H. Obama Magnet School in Jackson, Mississippi. Education is one of RCSUSA’s focus areas, and we are pleased to support this A-rated school that is making a difference in the lives of children every day!

L to R: Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Grigsby, Principal John Johnson, RCSUSA Vice Chairman Steve Edds, RCSUSA Executive Director Lindsey Simmons

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Governor signs human trafficking bill

Following the 2019 Mississippi legislative session, Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 571 into law. The law went into effect in July. In Mississippi, minors involved with human trafficking are now considered victims and cannot be charged with prostitution. This is an important step in the protection of child victims of human trafficking. RCSUSA is proud of House Speaker Philip Gunn and the Mississippi legislature for passing this bill.

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Mississippi teen wins essay competition, meets Royalty

Getting to meet royalty, It’s a once in a lifetime meeting and something that 14-year-old Madelyn Sloan Berry recently experienced.

After being named the U.S. winner of the Royal Commonwealth Essay competition, Madelyn, who prefers to go by Sloan, went to London England where she had an audience with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

“Getting to meet her I was kind of star-struck, because what girl from Mississippi meets royalty? It was just this incredible experience,” Sloan said. “Everyone was really kind. I met a lot of people that day, but Camilla was the one that I will probably remember forever.”

However, the 8th grader said she didn’t enter the competition thinking she was going to win.

“I just entered it thinking ‘why not?’ just in case I could win,” Sloan said. “I wrote the essay, submitted it and then forgot about it.”

With anywhere from 30,000-50,000 applicants from around the world each year, only one student is chosen to represent each country.

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The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019 launched by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in Ghana

The Royal Commonwealth Society is delighted to announce that The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019 was yesterday launched by our Vice-Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Ghana International School in Accra, following an event that heard pupils read their gold award winning pieces from 2018.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall announced the 2019 theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth’, which calls upon young people to consider how they can work to use cultural, technological and environmental connections for positive change across the Commonwealth. The Competition is an opportunity for all young Commonwealth citizens and residents, regardless of region, education or background, to share ideas, celebrate their story and have their voice heard – all whilst developing key skills.

The launch is the first in recent memory to happen outside of the UK and will raise awareness of the Competition for children across the Commonwealth. It is one of several engagements in support of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition during the Royal Tour, including a school visit in The Gambia and a literacy event today in Nigeria.

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On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, hosted a reception at Lancaster House at which Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall was announced as the Society’s inaugural Vice-Patron.

The reception brought together representatives from Her Majesty’s Government, the Commonwealth diplomatic corps, Accredited Commonwealth Organisations and representatives from the Society’s international network of over 60 branches to highlight the ongoing work of the Society across a broad range of issues.

This includes work in the fields of trade, gender equality, LGBT rights, environmental conservation through The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, and youth literacy. The Society also delivers annual pre-eminent Commonwealth events such as the multi-faith Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, which is attended by Her Majesty The Queen and Members of the Royal Family, and the High Commissioners’ Banquet.

This appointment builds on the relationship that The Duchess of Cornwall has had with the Society through her patronage of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition since 2014. The Competition is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing competition, founded in 1883 to promote literacy, self-expression, and creativity amongst young people throughout the Commonwealth.

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The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018 winners announced

Four young writers have been named as the Winners and Runners-Up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018, selected from approximately 12,000 entries from across the five regions of the Commonwealth. The competition is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing competition.

Representing almost every Commonwealth country, entrants wrote on pertinent topics such as the role of education in building a fairer future, what they would do as their country’s Head of Government for the day to improve life for young people, and their perfect recipe for a common future.

Senior Winner Zahra Hussain, 17, is from Lahore, Pakistan and Senior Runner-Up Ng Woon Neng, 16, is from Singapore.

Junior Winner Janine Shum, 13, is from Singapore and Junior Runner-Up Floria Gu, 13, is from Vancouver, Canada.

This year’s competition reflected the 2018 Commonwealth Theme of Towards a Common Future and its four sub-themes of A Fairer FutureA More Sustainable FutureA More Secure Future, and A More Prosperous Future which informed the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in London in April.

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An introduction to the RCS’ new Chief Executive, Dr. Greg Munro

A South-African national with a wealth of experience in the international sphere and local government, Greg joins the RCS at a key time. The UK has just hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and has Chair in Office, HRH The Duke of Sussex has been appointed ambassador for the Commonwealth Youth, and we as a Society celebrate our 150th year.

We sat down with Greg to ask him a few questions about what he sees as the challenges and opportunities for The Royal Commonwealth Society in the future.

Welcome to The Royal Commonwealth Society! Could you give readers a brief description of your background and why you decided to become Chief Executive of the Society?

The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and the Society have shared offices for some time as part of the ‘Commonwealth Hub’ and an alignment of the leadership across both organisations (while maintaining two separate organisations and brands) has been a logical next step to this process of greater integration across Commonwealth Organisations. I have in the past only worked in two sectors – Local Government and Charities/Non-governmental organisations. My work across both has been global with the Charity work focussing on civil society capacity-building, gender, inclusivity, human rights, and HIV/AIDS.

Could you sum up in a sentence or two your vision for the RCS?

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First American branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society established

No, you read that correctly. The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) is establishing its first branch in the United States in Mississippi. This chapter of the RCS was created to strengthen the commonalities of language, culture and trade the two countries already share.

Though it’s been over 200 years since the United States has had any actual ties with Great Britain, this branch makes the U.S. an associate member of the RCS. Meaning though America and the U.K. are still separate countries, they can form agreements with the U.K. and other member countries post-Brexit.

Surprisingly, some in the U.S. have contacted the RCS about having America join: “We’ve got a number of people [in the United States] who have come to us and said they were interested,” said Tim Hewish, director of policy and research at the RCS. “It’s just a case of seeing whether it works or not and obviously, on our side, we hope that it does,” he added.

Why is this a big deal? The RCS was founded in 1868; The Queen serves as its patron. Out of its 52 member countries, Her Majesty is Head of State of 16 of these nations. Spread across six continents, the population of the RCS is 2.2 billion; that’s three-quarters of the world’s landmass. The Gross Domestic Product is £6.9 trillion. The RCS promotes the rule of law, free trade, democracy and human rights.

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