Wellington woman Tabby Besley receives Queen's Young Leader award
Gay youth advocate Tabby Besley brought a touch of royalty to the Queen's Young Leader awards ceremony on Monday by sporting bright purple hair.
The Wellingtonian was presented with her award by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, for her devotion to supporting her peers in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Besley, 22, of Berhampore, is the only New Zealander to have received the award, which is a new honour given to just 60 young people worldwide for their devotion to Commonwealth values.
When she first found out she was a recipient, Besley's main concern was what to wear and what colour to dye her hair.
She opted for a simple black dress and bright purple hair.
* Gay youth advocate first Kiwi to earn Queen's new honour
Besley runs the nationwide gay youth charity InsideOUT, which supports students to set up gay-straight alliance groups in high schools.
The charity was inspired by Besley's positive experience of coming out as gay with the support of a similar group at Nayland College in Nelson.
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand executive director Aaron Hape said Besley's opposition to discrimination based on violence, sexuality, and gender exemplified Commonwealth values.
Besley mingled with members of the royal family, as well as football star David Beckham and former British prime minister Sir John Major.
Beckham and Major spoke to guests about the future of the Commonwealth and the importance of good leadership.
Beckham said: "I'm honoured to be here today to celebrate your achievement. With people like you, I have no doubt the world will be a better place."
Major said: "The Commonwealth is a unique institution. History has seen nothing like it, and the future is unlikely to have anything to compare with it. You exemplify the very best of what the Commonwealth is today, and our hope for what it will be tomorrow."
Before the palace ceremony, Besley and the other young leaders had breakfast with Prime Minister David Cameron, visited Twitter's British headquarters, and met senior executives at the BBC World Service.
Besley is currently on a year-long leadership development course run online by Cambridge University, which included a week's trip to Britain.
Her advocacy also got her another nod recently, as a contender for Young New Zealander of the Year 2015.
Just visited Number 10 Downing Street and met the PM. Not enough time for Donnya's LGBT question though! 😞 pic.twitter.com/lQS1pdspBf— Tabby Besley (@tabbybesley) June 22, 2015