The Queen described the campaigning work of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, as “wonderful” when the pair met at Buckingham Palace.
Malala, 16, was shot in the head in Pakistan last October after campaigning for the right of girls to go to school without fear in a part of the country where Islamic fundamentalists were trying to impose a strict form of Sharia.
Surgeons who treated her said she came within inches of death when the bullet grazed her brain in the school bus attack.
The schoolgirl, who was treated in Birmingham after the attack and now lives in the city, was a guest at a reception for commonwealth, youth and education hosted by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, and was selected as one of a handful of people to be presented to the Royals.
She gave the Queen a copy of her book, I Am Malala, which the monarch accepted, adding: “That’s very kind of you. Thank you very much indeed.”
Malala told the Queen she was passionate about the right to an education. Speaking to the Queen, she said of her invite to the palace: “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.”
The Queen listened intently and nodded as Malala spoke of her aim for every child to have an education, and added: “It’s wonderful, isn’t it?”
Malala had a fit of giggles as the Duke then told her: “There’s a thing about children going to school – they go to school because the parents don’t want them in the house.”
After meeting the Queen, Malala said that she would not ordinarily miss a day of lessons – but made an exception on this occasion.
“I had to miss school because I was meeting the Queen,” she said. “It’s such an honour for me to be here at Buckingham Palace. It’s really an honour to meet the Queen.
“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.”
She and her father Ziauddin also spoke to the Queen and Duke about their past visits to Pakistan.
Malala said: “The most interesting thing was that when I met the Queen, I said, ‘When you were in your 20s you came to Swat and came to the White Palace, where I’m from’.
“It is a beautiful valley. It is like paradise on earth.”