Cape Town student on the day she met Meghan, Harry and the queen: ‘I was scared I didn’t curtsy correctly!’

2018-07-02 15:59
Ms Siposetu Sethu Mbuli receives her Young Leaders

Cape Town - There aren’t many South Africans who can say they’ve met the Queen of England.

And there are even less who can boast that they were honoured by Her Majesty in a prestigious awards ceremony for young leaders all over the world.

But Siposetu Mbuli (24) can.

It was all thanks to Love, This Skin - a non-profit organisation focused on raising awareness about albinism, which the final-year chemistry student at the University of Cape Town launched herself.

Sethu, as her friends call her, had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during her visit to Buckingham Palace in June.

"I was definitely star struck when I met Meghan," Sethu told YOU.

"The first moment I chatted with her was when we took the big photo with all of us and the queen. She just looked at me and said, 'Congratulations, you guys are doing incredible work.'"

She barely knew what to say to the newest member of the royal family, Sethu says.

"I was thinking that I wanted to say she looked amazing, but I thought, 'Oh, that might not be appropriate.' So I just said thank you."

Harry and Meghan are "down to earth", Sethu says. They chatted to her and the other prize winners about their projects, and the couple’s own plans for the Commonwealth Youth Programme.

"They were very supportive and would like to work with us, which is fantastic."

The queen, on the other hand, was a little intimidating, Sethu admits.

"It felt like 30 seconds and I was very, very nervous that I would curtsy incorrectly or say something wrong, but everything went very smoothly." 

"She is very attentive and sharp," Sethu adds. "She listens to what you have to say and looks you straight in the eye."

The MFM radio presenter, who lives in Stellenbosch, is still on cloud nine after the experience.

"It was my first time in England – my first time out of South Africa, actually," says Sethu, a native of King Williamstown in the Eastern Cape.

During the visit, she and the 60 other winners visited different organisations and attended workshops that could help them to sharpen their skills for their various projects.

"The highlight was being at Buckingham Palace. I could never even have dreamed of being there and it was a very surreal moment."

Sethu heard about this leadership programme last year through a previous winner and decided to sign up.

"I applied in August and I didn’t hear back until December, when they told me I was one of the winners! I was very excited."

She is one of two South Africans who received an award. Cape Town entrepreneur, Thamsanqa Hoza, also received a leadership prize.

READ MORE: SA youth honoured by Queen Elizabeth at the Young Leaders Awards

As part of the programme, Sethu will also take an online leadership course offered by Cambridge University later this year.

"I feel truly honoured, as young leaders you are not always sure if it [your project] even matters or what difference it will make," Sethu, who also has albinism, says.  

"It makes me more confident to take greater risks, to continue the work I do and raising awareness. It gives me a bigger stage to talk about the condition – this has been an incredible platform for me."

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