From the Commonwealth with love

Verity Sharp

On 14 November, Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, was presented with a digital collection of the best contributions from the Jubilee Time Capsule.

Visiting the Royal Commonwealth Society on Northumberland Avenue, Her Majesty attended a special reception where she spoke to individual participants and supporters of the Jubilee Time Capsule before being presented with the top 60 entries on a digital tablet – a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

The top 60 entries, or the ‘Diamond (re) Collection’, were chosen by a panel of distinguished judges from the 80,000 pieces of content – equalling nearly 150GB – that had been submitted to this innovative digital Diamond Jubilee project.

Launched on Commonwealth Day 2011, the project is an online archive of the past 60 years of Commonwealth history. People from across the 54 member countries were invited to select a memorable day from the Queen’s reign and send in photos, drawings, videos, essays and poems to explain why that day was important to them.

The response was overwhelming, with over 37,000 people adding their memories to the capsule. From reminiscences of Accession Day to accounts of the first day of school, and from natural disasters to weddings, the capsule is a true cornucopia of Commonwealth history.

The panel was made up of the following judges: the Honourable Lady Jane Robert (Royal Librarian at the Royal Collection, Windsor), Dr Michael Pritchard (Director General of the Royal Photographic Society), Mr Benedict Brogan (Deputy Editor at The Daily Telegraph), Ms Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (author and the 2005 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize winner), Mr Dean Finch (Group Chief Executive of National Express Group PLC) and Mr Shehan Karunatilaka (author and winner of the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize).

Sealed on 30 September, the judges had the difficult task of selecting the top 60 entries from the Time Capsule to be presented to the Queen on the digital tablet, which will be held as part of the Royal Collection – one of the largest and most important art collections in the world – in Windsor Castle. The selection spanned the six decades and different regions of the Commonwealth, giving a true insight into the wealth and breadth of the project.

The Diamond (re)Collection was presented to the Queen by John Samson, this year’s Junior Commonwealth Essay Competition winner from the Jacaranda Foundation, an organisation that provides free primary, secondary and tertiary educations to orphans in Malawi. In 2012 essays were submitted via the Capsule, and John’s winning piece – ‘The day I wore my best clothes’ – was selected by the judges as one of the 60 best entries.

John’s essay is just one example of the thousands of moving entries submitted to the capsule. Schools, youth groups, community organisations and individuals took part in their thousands and their memories will remain online at for the public to use as an online education resource about life in the Commonwealth.

Her Majesty’s visit was the culmination of this fascinating and thought-provoking project, and we’re certain that, scrolling through the top 60 entries on her way back to Buckingham Palace, The Queen was overjoyed with the project too.

About the author:

Verity Sharp is a Programmes Officer at the Royal Commonwealth Society


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