Buckingham Palace insider resigns after racist comments
Queen Elizabeth II’s lady-in-waiting has resigned after repeatedly questioning a Black British charity founder on her background.
Ngozi Fulani of Sistah Space, a charity that supports women of African and Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom who have faced domestic and sexual abuse, was invited to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday with about 300 other guests for a reception hosted by the Queen Consort Camilla meant to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
Fulani shared the details of the encounter with Lady Susan Hussey on her Twitter account, stating that 10 minutes after her arrival, Hussey “moved my hair to see my name badge” and demanded to know where she was from.
When Fulani said she and her charity were based in the U.K., Hussey — Prince William’s godmother — asked for Fulani’s nationality, which the charity founder responded was British.
According to Fulani, Hussey then asked, “No but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?”
Fulani repeated she was born in and is of British nationality.
“Oh, I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you’re from,” Hussey allegedly said. “When did you first come here?”
“Lady! I am a British national,” Fulani said. “My parents came here in the 50s.”
Fulani said Hussey then interrupted her and called her Caribbean.
“No, Lady,” Fulani responded. “I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality.”
Fulani has since called the encounter with Hussey traumatizing.
Hussey, 83, was Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years. After the queen’s death, she was given an honorary role as one of three Ladies of the Household to help King Philip at formal occasions.
In a statement reported by the BBC, Buckingham Palace said: “We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details.”
“In this instance, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made,” the statement continued. “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. In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect. All members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”
In an interview with the Independent, Fulani said the incident was indicative of institutional racism.
“I was in shock after it happened and anybody who knows me, knows I don’t take this kind of nonsense,” Fulani said. “But I had to consider so many things. As a Black person, I found myself in this place where I wanted to say something but what happened would automatically be seen as my fault, it would bring Sistah Space down. It would be ‘oh, she has a chip on their shoulder.’”
Fulani said Hussey’s resignation was a missed learning opportunity. She is now calling on the royal household to implement antiracism training so others don’t have to go through the experience she had.