A couple weeks ago, the Prince Charles of Wales and the Duchess Camilla of Cornwall visited New Zealand together for the first time in four years.
During their visit they spent some time at Tūranga Library in Christchurch Central City, where an event for young writers was being run by the Royal Commonwealth Society in association with the Ministry of Education.
Eight students from Burnside High School, five Year Nines and three Year Tens, attended the workshops. The first was run by Amy Paulussen (an English teacher at Cashmere High School) and David Eggleton (the New Zealand Poet Laureate), and was all about poetry and gathering ideas from the world around you.
The second was run by Lee Kenny (an education journalist for Stuff and The Press) and was about journalism. He took the group through an educational slide show about his work for The Press and Stuff, both well known news outlets, and journalism in general.
In the afternoon, the room was filled with the energy of nervous children awaiting Her Royal Highness, the Duchess Camilla. Security guards and sniffer dogs had swept the area earlier, and more trickled in to prepare for her entrance. It was hard to concentrate, as we and the other thirty-or-so writers were all restless as we waited for Her Royal Highness to arrive.
When she arrived, she sat and chatted with us about our writing that day and in general, as well as discussing our future careers.
In addition to presenting awards to the 2019 Canterbury winners for The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, the Duchess launched the 2020 competition with the topic ‘Climate Change and the Commonwealth’ and the challenge to New Zealand to double our entries next year. The prizes vary from year to year. In the past they have included a week long trip to London and visits to Cambridge University.