East Cape-born woman honoured by the queen
Not everyone can brag about meeting the queen of England, but for 24-year-old Siphosethu Mbuli this became a reality – and she gets to tackle a year-long course with the University of Cambridge as a result.
“It was a great experience. It was surreal,” Mbuli said.
“We spent three or four hours at the [Buckingham] palace but it felt like it was only 30 minutes.”
Mbuli was one of two South Africans who received an invitation to the palace last week to receive the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for their work from Queen Elizabeth.
Mbuli‚ who is living with albinism‚ was honoured for the work she does for people living with albinism in South Africa through her foundation Love‚ This Skin.
“The queen was very attentive to each of our stories,” she said.
“She was asking about which part of South Africa I am [from] – and the work we have done.
She was giving encouragement to continue doing the work we are doing.”
Mbuli hails from King William’s Town, but is based in Stellenbosch.
Among the dignitaries at the ceremony was one of the newest additions to the royal family‚ the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.
“We had a short conversation with her,” Mbuli said.
“She congratulated us.
“She and Prince Harry also wanted to find out about the work we do.”
Although they did not explore the palace‚ Mbuli said what she saw was pristine.
“It was an unbelievable experience. There were so many people. There were people everywhere to show you around in case you got lost.”
After receiving her invitation to the palace six months ago‚ Mbuli paired with designer Hendrik Vermuelen to put together an outfit that would be fitting for royalty.
“The dress showed my South African heritage.
“It had a large protea in the front and Xhosa patterns around it‚ as I am a Xhosa woman,” she said.
“It was also the same colour as my skin.”
As part of her award‚ Mbuli will be embarking on a yearlong course at the University of Cambridge aimed at helping her develop her organisation.
She will complete the course via correspondence.