Malala: I had to miss school to meet the queen

Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani activist who has risked her life campaigning for girls’ right to education, took a rare holiday from school on Friday when she met with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. 

“I had to miss school because I was meeting the queen,” she told reporters at the event. “It's such an honor for me to be here at Buckingham Palace. It's really an honor 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.”

Malala, 16, and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, chatted with the queen and Prince Philip as they joined hundreds of other guests from around the world at a royal reception. The young activist presented the queen with a copy of her new memoir, “I Am Malala.” She giggled as Prince Philip joked that in England, parents want their children to go to school so they can get them out of the house. 

Malala became a symbol of resistance against the Taliban last year when she was shot in the head by militants in Pakistan in retaliation for her activism. Her work in advocating for girls’ education after the Taliban banned girls from schools in the Swat Valley in Pakistan in 2009 made her a target, but she continues to promote her cause.

She was nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which ultimately was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Malala has been living in Great Britain since undergoing major surgery there following the shooting. A week before greeting the queen, she met with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House. She released a statement challenging the U.S. on drone strikes in Pakistan and saying more effort should be put into promoting education in her home nation. On Oct. 8, she released her memoir, in which she writes about the shooting and her determination to keep advocating for education for young girls in Pakistan.

“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died,’’ she told the United Nations in July. “Strength, power and courage was born. I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.”

She was shot by a Taliban gunman last year at 15 years old when he boarded a school bus she was riding home. She has received continuous death threats from the Taliban, but it has not stopped her work as an activist. 

  • Slideshow Photos

    Image: Malala Yousafzai

    Schoolgirl attacked by Taliban in Pakistan

    Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against Pakistani militants and promoting education for girls.

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    Malala Yousafzai gives a copy of her book to Queen Elizabeth II during a Reception for Youth, Education and the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace in London on Oct. 18, 2013.
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    Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai reacts to the crowd during an International Day of the Girl event at the IMF World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, DC, on Oct. 11, 2013.
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    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Malia meet with Malala Yousafzai in the Oval Office on Oct. 11. The Pakistani girl, 16, was shot in the head and neck in 2012 in Pakistan's Swat Valley by the Taliban for her activism for women's rights and education.
    Pete Souza / The White House via Getty Images
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    Malala Yousafzai arrives to promote her book "I am Malala" at "The Daily Show" on Oct. 8 in New York City.
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    Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai meets Bono and The Edge from the band U2 in Dublin on Sept. 17, where she received an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience 2013 award.
    Robbie Reynolds / Amnesty International via EPA
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    Malala Yousafzai is honored with the International Children's Peace Prize in the Hague on Sept. 6.
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    Malala Yousafzai stands by her father Ziauddin Yousafzai as she opens a new library in Birmingham, England, on Sept. 3.
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    Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban, speaks at the United Nations Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013 in New York City. The United Nations declared July 12, "Malala Day," which also happens to be her birthday. Yousafzai turned 16.
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    School friends Malala Yousafzai, right, and Shazia Ramzan greet each other on being reunited at Birmingham airport, England, on June 29, 2013. Shazia was on her school bus in Pakistan when Taliban gunmen came in search of Malala, a vocal campaigner for girls' education. Malala was shot in the head while Shazia suffered gun wounds to the neck and shoulder. Malala was airlifted to Birmingham soon after the attack, but Shazia stayed in Pakistan. She has now flown to Britain to fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor and has been granted permission to complete her studies.
    Ken Bhogal / World at School via EPA
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    Malala Yousafzai announces the first grant from the Malala Fund in a video released on April 5. The money will help to send 40 girls to school in her home region of Pakistan.
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    Malala Yousafzai attends her first day of school in England on March 19, just weeks after being released from hospital. The 15-year-old participated in lessons at the Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham.
    Malala Press Office via AP
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    Malala Yousafzai hugs a member of hospital staff as she is discharged from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, on Jan. 3. The hospital said the 15-year-old would have to return for reconstructive surgery.
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    Malala Yousafzai waves as she leaves the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after been discharged on Jan. 3. The Pakistani government said that the teenager, who was flown to Birmingham a week after she was attacked on Oct. 9, will be able to stay in Britain after her father was given a consular post in Birmingham.
    NHS via EPA
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    Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, left, and his daughter Asifa Bhutto, right, meet with Malala Yousafzai, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, on Dec. 8, 2012. Yousafzai is undergoing treatment for injuries sustained when a Taliban gunman opened fire on her and her friends outside the Khushal School for Girls in Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan.
    Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham via AP
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    School students walk past near Khushal School in Mingora, Swat valley, on Nov. 29. Two Pakistani girls shot by a Taliban hit squad trying to kill their classmate, Malala Yousafzai, returned to school on Thursday under tight security.
    Hazrat Ali Bacha / Reuters
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    Pakistani school children gather under a poster of injured classmate Malala at the Khushal School for Girls, as they wait before classes in Mingora, Swat Valley Pakistan, in Nov. 15. The poem which runs down one side of the poster talks about Malala's bravery, smile and courage.
    Anja Niedringhaus / AP
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    Supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party hold potraits of Malala Yousafzai in Karachi, on Nov. 10. U.N. officials declared "Malala Day" one month after 15-year-old Malala and two of her classmates were shot by the Pakistan Taliban.
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    Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai reads a book as she recuperates at the The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
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    Malala Yousafzai sits up in her hospital bed with her father Ziauddin and her two younger brothers, Atal Khan, right, and Khushal Khan, center, on Oct. 26, 2012 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. In an attack that outraged the world, the 15-year-old was shot on a school bus in the former Taliban stronghold of the Swat Valley in Pakistan on Oct. 9 as a punishment for campaigning for the right to an education.
    Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham via Getty Images
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    Pakistani students carry placards with the photographs of child activist Malala Yousafzai during a protest against the assassination attempt by the Taliban on Malala in Lahore on Oct. 16.
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    Malala Yousafzai at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in a picture released on Oct. 19.
    University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
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    A Nepalese student holds a photo of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai during a candlelight vigil to express support for her in Kathmandu, Nepal on Oct.15. Yousafzai was shot along with two classmates by a Taliban gunman while they were on their way home from school on Oct. 9.
    Niranjan Shrestha / AP
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    A Pakistani supporter of the political party Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) shouts slogans during a protest against the assassination attempt by the Taliban of child activist Malala Yousafzai in Karachi, Oct. 14.
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    Afghan school girls pray for the recovery of a Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot and wounded by Pakistani Taliban militants, as Afghan Education Ministry organized special prayers for Malala during morning assembly in schools across the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Oct. 13.
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    A Pakistani boy holds up a picture of 15-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in Karachi, Pakistan, Oct. 13.
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    Pakistani girls display a poster as their teacher, not shown, talks to them about 15-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, Oct. 12.
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    People light candles alongside pictures of Malala Yousafzai in Lahore, Pakistan, Oct. 12. One of the Taliban's most feared commanders, Maulana Fazlullah, carefully briefed two killers from his special hit squad on their target -- 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Yousafzai, who had angered the Taliban by speaking out for "Western"-style girls' education.
    Mohsin Raza / Reuters
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    Pakistani students pray for the recovery of 15-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in Peshawar, Pakistan, Oct. 12.
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    Hospital staff assist Malala Yousafzai at Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital in the Swat Valley region in northwest Pakistan Oct. 9.
    Stringer/pakistan / Reuters
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    Malala Yousafzai is seen in Swat Valley, northwest Pakistan, in this undated file photo.
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    Malala Yousafzai sits in her family's home in the Swat Valley in 2009 when she was 12.
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    Malala Yousafzai, pictured here at the age of 12 on March 26, 2009 in Peshawar, Pakistan. In Oct. 2012, she was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, but survived. The Taliban targeted Malala because of her outspoken and relentless objection to the group's regressive interpretation of Islam that keeps women at home and bars girls from school.
    Veronique De Viguerie / Getty Images
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