Entertainment & Arts

Duchess of Cornwall to judge 500 words competition

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Media captionAnimator Oliver Smyth talks about making a cartoon of the Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess of Cornwall is to be an honorary judge for Chris Evans's short story competition for children, it has been announced.

She voiced an animated version of herself for a promotional video launching the BBC's 500 words contest - thought to be a royal first.

The competition, in its sixth year, challenges under-13s to write a story about any fictional topic in 500 words.

A record 120,421 entries were received last year.

'Proud and honoured'

The final will be broadcast live from Shakespeare's Globe in London, with every child who pens an entry being placed in a ballot to attend the show, alongside the finalists.

The duchess joins children's authors Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Francesca Simon on the judging panel.

Evans said: "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."

Image caption The Duchess of Cornwall hosted last year's final at St James's Palace

In the animated clip, Camilla is seen standing on a balcony at the Globe, before asking: "So, what story are you going to write?".

Evans said: "It's fantastic fun seeing myself in cartoon form and I'm in the most gracious company imaginable, as none other than the Duchess of Cornwall agreed to be animated too - for the first time ever!"

The finalists will take part in a live broadcast of BBC Radio 2's Breakfast Show on 27 May. It is being held at the Globe as part of the BBC's celebration of Shakespeare, with 2016 marking 400 years since his death.

The winning entries will be read out by famous narrators, with last year's readers including Sir Kenneth Branagh and Jeremy Irons.

Sofia Zambuto won the gold award in the five to nine years category last year with Fight For Life, with Amabel Smith winning the 10 to 13 years category for It's A Wide World .

Bob Shennan, controller of BBC Radio 2, said: "I hope parents will encourage their children to take part in 2016 to give us another record-breaking year of entries."

Children can enter the 2016 contest at bbc.co.uk/500words

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