Duchess of Cornwall to judge R2's 500 Words

Duchess of Cornwall to judge R2's 500 Words

The Duchess of Cornwall has been announced as an honorary judge for a short story competition for children run by Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter Chris Evans.

The Duchess, who last year hosted the competition's final at St James' Palace, voiced an animation of herself to publicise her continued involvement with the competition: a royal "first" in itself, according to Evans.

Going into its sixth year, the nationwide 500 word writing competition last year attracted over 120,000 entries and asks children aged between 5 and 13 to write an original work of fiction in under 500 words. 

The Duchess is a known patron of literary organisations and projects such as the National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, First Story, and the Wicked Young Writer Awards, and also supports literacy schemes in prisons.

She joins fellow judges in Children's Laureate (2013-15) Malorie Blackman OBE; actor, comedian and author Charlie Higson; Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon; and children's author Frank Cottrell Boyce, the writer behind 2012's Olympic opening ceremony.

As part of the BBC's celebrations for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare, the final for 2016's competition will be broadcast live from Shakespeare's Globe in London on 27th May, where the judges will read all shortlisted stories before deciding 2016's winners. 

A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Duchess is a passionate supporter of literacy and BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition.

“Her Royal Highness agreed to appear in the animation as she felt it was an engaging way to encourage children to enter the competition and have a go at writing their own stories.”

Evans added: "Myself and the 500 words team at BBC Radio 2 are hugely proud and honoured to welcome the Duchess of Cornwall as an honorary judge for the competition. 

"Does this mean Radio 2 is now 'by royal appointment'? How exciting! And with this final taking place in the amazing surroundings of Shakespeare's Globe, this will be a truly special year for the competition."

The competition is divided into two categories: 5-9 years and 10-13 years. "Inspiration, hints and tips" will be available to hopeful entrants in the form of short films presented by Naomie Harris, Horrible Histories actor Ben Wilibond and Sheila Hancock. The deadline for submissions is 7pm on 25th February.