SUGA Petronilla Molio’o Mataeliga described her moment meeting the Queen of England as “so surreal”.
The 25-year-old SUGA was the Samoan recipient of the Queens Young Leaders award held at Buckingham Palace and attended by guests The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and celebrity David Beckham.
The awards recognise the achievements of 60 young people from across the Commonwealth.
Petronilla, who coincidentally shares the same name as a historic Spanish queen, says that the Royal Family are pleasantly down to earth.
“I am honoured to have met Her Majesty the Queen'” she told SUGA Magazine.
“I love how engaged the Royal Family were in receiving us. They really made us feel like our voices really count and made us feel comfortable in speaking our minds in their presence.”
She was selected as Samoa’s recipient following her achievements in reviving the weaving of the “fala-masi” (traditional Samoan mats) – teaching women how to weave and tackling the issue of female unemployment in Samoa.
Petronilla who became a mother at the age of 20, thought that at the time of having her first child, that there wasn’t much of a future for her. However remembering the traditions and talents from her late grandmother and her mother, she got stuck into her weaving and soon enough she was teaching others to weave.
Five years and two more children later, the successful businesswoman, also an owner of Le Rosa Accommodation in Samoa, never imagined she would be meeting the Queen.
“I got all emotional meeting her as I had flashbacks of my journey and everyone who helped me along the way. The challenges I faced as a young leader were all worth it.”
The youth advocate who is passionate about empowerment and also works as a Samoa Victim Support Group representative, says this is only the beginning.
“Viia le Alii. I cannot wait to return home to Samoa and create more impact with everything I have learnt on this trip.”