500 Words comes to Buckingham Palace!


500 Words has returned to Buckingham Palace. The competition, which is supported by BBC Teach, encourages children of all abilities to dive deep into their imagination and write the story they would love to read in 500 words or less, without fear of spelling, grammar or punctuation errors.

500 Words 2023 at Buckingham Palace

500 Words returns!

500 Words is back! The creative writing competition encourages children, categorised into 5-7 and 8-11 year olds, to write a fictional story – using 500 words or fewer.

Earlier in the year, judges of the competition were welcomed into Buckingham Palace to deliberate over winners from almost 44,000 entries. Chaired by BBC Breakfast’s Jon Kay, the judges include Sir Lenny Henry, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Francesca Simon, Charlie Higson and Malorie Blackman. 

Last week, 50 finalists, along with their parents and carers, joined The Queen at the 500 Words Grand Final at Buckingham Palace, which will also be shown in a special programme on BBC's The One Show on World Book Day, Thursday 7th March.

Hailing from all corners of the UK, the finalists represent a diverse spectrum of voices with the young wordsmiths coming from Kent, Merseyside, Wiltshire, Glasgow, Vale of Glamorgan and beyond. 

Click here to read the finalists' stories!

The Grand Final at Buckingham Palace

This afternoon, The Queen hosted the Grand Final of BBC's 500 Words at Buckingham Palace, welcoming finalists, judges and celebrity readers to watch performances and listen to the winning stories.

Since the competition was first launched in 2011 by Chris Evans on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, 500 Words has received over one million stories from children throughout the UK.

The Grand Final, which took place in the Ballroom, has been recorded for a special episode of BBC The One Show, airing on World Book Day, Thursday 7th March.

The ceremony celebrates the achievements of six winners from two age categories - 5 to 7 years and 8 to 11 years - with recognition given to gold, silver, and bronze recipients in each group.

Hosted by comedian and children’s author, Romesh Ranganathan, the six winners were announced, and their stories read by celebrity readers from the realms of film, theatre, and television.

Following the ceremony, Her Majesties hosted guests in the Picture Gallery and met with six illustrators who have been commissioned to illustrate the six winning stories. 

The Queen hosts finalists of 500 Words 2023

Exhibits from the Royal Library were also on display for guests to enjoy, including miniature books from Queen Mary's Dolls' House, created by author and 500 Words judge, Malorie Blackman, and guest illustrator, Axel Scheffler.

The Queen hosts finalists of 500 Words 2023

Her Majesty The Queen is well known for her work on literacy. As a grandmother, Her Majesty understands the joy of reading, but also the importance of literacy in creating life opportunities. Her Majesty has visited schools and libraries, as well as workplace reading schemes and prisons to see the work of adult literacy schemes.

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