LONDON: Malala Yousufzai skipped school for the day but she had a pretty good excuse: she was meeting Queen Elizabeth II.
The 16-year-old advocate for girls’ education and survivor of a Taliban assassination attempt on Friday gave the 87-year-old queen a copy of her book “I am Malala,” and spoke to her about the importance of education. Malala said she wouldn’t ordinarily miss a school day but had made an exception. The pair also chatted about Swat Valley, which the queen visited decades ago.
Malala was reduced to fits of laughter by the queen’s husband Prince Philip as she met the royal couple. She was accompanied by her father at a reception held at the Buckingham Palace for youth, education and Commonwealth.
Malala told the queen, who is head of the 53-nation Commonwealth that includes Pakistan, that she was passionate about every child around the world having a right to an education.
Telling the monarch of her trip to the palace, Malala said: “It is not just an invitation, it is an honour for me, and I hope we all work together for the education of every child, and especially in this country as well.”
Prince Philip, 92, who is known for his occasional gaffes, quipped: “There’s a thing about children going to school — they go to school because the parents don’t want them in the house.”
The comment left Malala covering her face in a fit of giggles.
The reception, in the palace’s White Drawing Room, was attended by 350 guests from academic institutions around the world.
After the attack last year, Malala was flown to Britain for specialist care in Birmingham, central England.
She has continued her education in the city while being feted in the West, addressing the United Nations and meeting US President Barack Obama, although she missed out last week on the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I had to miss school because I was meeting the queen,” Malala said.
“It’s such an honour for me to be here at Buckingham Palace.
“I also wanted to raise the issue of girls not being educated on a higher platform so that the government in each country takes action on it.
“We need to fight for education in the suffering countries and developing countries, but also here.”
At an event in Edinburgh on Saturday, Malala is set to be reunited with the two school friends who were injured alongside her.
CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP: Malala will be granted honorary Canadian citizenship, the Canadian government announced in Ottawa on Wednesday.
She will join an elite group of foreign honourees who include South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Canada recognizes the courageous and inspiring example set by Malala Yousufzai in risking her life promoting education for young women,” the Canadian government said in a speech setting out its priorities for the next two years.
“She faced down evil and oppression and now speaks boldly for those who are silenced.”