The member of the Buckingham Palace household who resigned after “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” made to a Black charity boss is Prince Williams godmother, it has been revealed.
Ngozi Fulani, founder of Britain’s leading domestic abuse charity for Black women, says she was left “traumatised” after she was asked racially offensive questions about her heritage at the event.
The CEO of Sistah Space was invited to the Violence Against Women and Girls reception on Tuesday, hosted by the Queen Consort Camilla, and described the remarks made by a palace aide as “insulting”.
Lady Susan Hussey served as Queen Elizabeth II’s lady in-waiting for more than 60 years and is a godmother to the Prince of Wales.
Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space, detailed the conversation on Twitter, describing it as a “violation” and said the experience will “never leave me”.
Lady Susan Hussey, 83, who was invited to and on duty at the reception, was Queen Elizabeth II’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years and is a godmother to the Prince of Wales.
She has now stepped down from her honorary role as one of three Ladies of the Household, to which she was newly appointed to help the King at formal occasions.
King Charles, who acceded to the throne less than three months ago, and Camilla have been made aware of the situation, the Palace said.
Ms Fulani said she was challenged when she said her charity was based in Hackney, with “Lady SH” saying: “No, what part of Africa are YOU from?”
The Palace said in a statement: “In this instance, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made. 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.”
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, who was next to Ms Fulani and witnessed the exchange, said they were treated like “trespassers”.
Ms Reid said: “We really felt ‘oh, OK, we’re being treated almost like trespassers in this place.
“‘We’re not being treated as if we belong, we’re not being embraced as if we are British.’”
She described the conversation as “grim” and like an “interrogation”, adding: “She was really persistent. She didn’t take Ngozi’s answers at face value.”
Ms Fulani detailed the encounter, which happened 10 minutes after she arrived in the Palace’s Picture Gallery, on social media, which included the remarks: “’Where are you from?’
“Me: ‘Here, UK’. ‘No, but what nationality are you?’ Me: ‘I am born here and am British.’ ‘No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?’ Me: “My people”, lady, what is this?’
“’Oh, I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you’re from.’”
Ms Fulani, who founded Sistah Space in 2015 to provide specialist support for African and Caribbean heritage women affected by abuse, wrote: “Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace.
“10 mins after arriving, a member of staff, Lady SH, approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge. The conversation below took place. The rest of the event is a blur.”
She thanked Ms Reid, the first person of colour to lead a national political party in British history, and Safe Lives chief executive Suzanne Jacob for their support on the day.
Responding to messages of support, Ms Fulani wrote: “Standing there in a room packed with people while this violation was taking place was so strange, especially as the event was about violence against women.
“That feeling of not knowing what to do, will never leave me. Almost alone in a room full of advocates.”
She said it was a “struggle to stay in a space where you were violated”.
Ms Fulani outlined her distress at not being able to report the incident, saying she felt she could not tell Camilla.
“There was nobody to report it to. I couldn’t report it to the Queen Consort, plus it was such a shock to me and the other two women, that we were stunned to temporary silence,” she wrote.
“I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled and engaged briefly with who spoke to me until I could leave.”
Ms Jacob tweeted it was “a horrible thing to happen, and in a space that should have been nothing but love and celebration” and said she would be raising it with the team who organised for them to be there.
The matter raises serious concerns for the Palace, where an unnamed royal was accused last year by the Duchess of Sussex of racism against her unborn son Archie.
Who is Lady Susan Hussey?
The 83-year-old was a close friend of the late Queen Elizabeth II and was by her side at the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, the year she was appointed as the Woman of the Bedchamber.
Her role was initially to respond to letters following the birth of Prince Andrew and was affectionately referred to as the “Number one head girl” in the Queen’s office.
She was trusted with recommending Tiggy Legge-Bourke as nanny to Prince William and his brother Harry.
Through the years she has enjoyed close proximity to the family, as Prince William’s godmother and the only person chosen to stand by the Queen’s side at the funeral of her husband, the late Prince Philip.
She was given a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 2013 - the highest rank personally granted by the sovereign.
She is the youngest daughter of the 12th Earl of Waldegrave and sister of William Waldgrave - a former Tory Cabinet minister.
Her husband was Marmaduke Hussey, who was chair of the board of governors of the BBC from 1986 to 1996. He died in 2006.
On 19 September she attended the Queen's funeral alongside other members of the Royal Family and as the Queen’s lady-in-waiting she was considered a member of the royal household.