London: An honorary member of the Buckingham Palace household has resigned after repeatedly asking a black woman who runs a charity for survivors of domestic abuse what country she “came from,” despite her insistence she was a British national.
The conversation was detailed on Twitter by Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space, an east London refuge that provides specialist support for women of African and Caribbean heritage.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, left, and her then lady in waiting, Lady Susan Hussey in 2011.Credit:AP
The incident took place at a reception hosted by Camilla, the queen consort, for women working to fight domestic violence.
Fulani said that when she told a household member she was from east London, she was asked, “No, what part of Africa are YOU from?”
The palace said it took the incident extremely seriously and investigated the “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments”.
Britain’s Press Association and a number of other media outlets in Britain identified the woman who made the remarks as Lady Susan Hussey, who served as Queen Elizabeth II’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years. She is also a godmother to the Prince William.
Charity leader Ngozi Fulani, centre left, attends a reception held by Britain’s Camilla, the Queen Consort.Credit:AP
Fulani named the member of the palace household only as Lady SH. Buckingham Palace declined comment on the identity of the individual.
William’s spokesperson said he was really disappointed to hear about the incident.
“Obviously, I wasn’t there, but racism has no place in our society,” the spokesperson said.
“The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.”
The incident is the latest to embroil the royal family in allegations of racism, after Charles’s younger son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan made accusations in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021.
Meghan, in the interview, said one unnamed member of the family had asked, before their son Archie was born, how dark his skin might be.
The allegation clearly stung the monarchy, which promised any such issues would be treated very seriously, and prompted William, Harry’s older brother to remark days later: “We’re very much not a racist family.”
The exchange with Fulani had occurred at a ‘Violence Against Women And Girls’ reception at the palace, where guests included Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska, Belgium’s Queen Mathilde and Jordan’s Queen Rania.
In her account posted on Twitter, Fulani, said about 10 minutes after she arrived, an aide approached her and moved her hair to view her name badge.
After being asked a number of times what part of Africa she was from, Fulani said she replied: “I am born here and am British.”
The aide responded: “No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?”
Last year, a senior royal source said Buckingham Palace had not done enough on diversity, although it has been endeavouring to boost the number of staff from ethnic minorities.
“We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes,” the palace spokesperson said.
“All members of the Household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”
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