On Friday morning, The Duchess of Cornwall attended hosted the live broadcast of the final of BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words children’s writing competition, as well as a reception for the winners, celebrity readers, competition judges and 500 Words supporters. It took place at Windsor Castle.
Her Royal Highness was welcomed by Zoe Ball and Chris Evans, who originally came up with the idea for the competition. Afterwards, Camilla gave a short speech as part of the live broadcast.
BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words asks children aged 5-13, across the UK, to put pen to paper and compose an original work of fiction using no more than 500 words.
For this year’s competition, Camilla has returned as Honorary Judge, being the fourth year that she supports 500 Words. As an Honorary Judge, The Duchess read and debated the top 50 stories of the competition with authors, including Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Francesca Simon.
The Duchess was joined by Chris Evans to announce the winners of the story competition, who are six girls. Michael Sheen, David Walliams, Hugh Bonneville, Konnie Huq and Helen McCrory were also invited to the stage to read the six winning stories.
The competition aims to promote literacy among children, encouraging them to explore their creativity through writing and reading, providing them with tips from published authors and other resources to support their learning.
In 2015, The Duchess of Cornwall hosted the competition final at St James’s Palace and since then, she has been an Honorary Judge, also attending the 2016 final at Shakespeare’s Globe, the 2017 final at the Tower of London, and last year’s final at Hampton Court Palace.
Mya Dainty, who wrote “Pants!”, a story from the point of view of a pair of pants, won the silver award in the five to nine year olds category. About the story, Frank Cottrell-Boyce said: “The idea of a family running away from their own knickers will stay with me for a long time.”
Charlie Higson added: “I don’t think I’ve ever read a story before that was written from the point of view of a pair of pants.”
As an avid reader herself, The Duchess of Cornwall believes it is vital to support children and adults alike to develop an interest in reading and writing. Passionate about literacy, Camilla is patron of a number of literacy charities including the National Literacy Trust, BookTrust, Beanstalk and First Story.