The Lady Susan Hussey Buckingham Palace racism row explained

The Lady Susan Hussey Buckingham Palace racism row explained
Lady Susan Hussey resigns after she questioned black British charity boss about …

The late Queen's lady-in-waiting has apologised and resigned after being accused of "racism" over the way she treated a black British charity boss.

The palace has released a statement in response to the incident which left the charity worker feeling "violated".

Here's everything you need to know about the incident:

What happened?

Lady Susan Hussey reportedly asked a black British charity boss where she was "really from" at a charity event at the palace on Tuesday (29th November).

Ngozi Fulani was at Buckingham Palace at a violence against women and girls reception hosted by Queen Consort Camilla, alongside 300 guests.

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She was representing Sistah Space, a London-based charity that supports women of African and Caribbean heritage who have faced domestic and sexual abuse and it was there she met Hussey.

Fulani claimed Hussey moved her hair to reveal her name badge and persistently questioned her over where her “people” came from, despite having been told she was a British national.

She posted about it on Twitter and included a transcript of how she remembered the conversation. The tweet went viral with Fulani receiving messages of support from a number of high-profile figures.

This is the transcript, reproduced:

Lady SH: Where are you from?

Me: Sistah Space.

SH: No, where do you come from?

Me: We're based in Hackney.

SH: No, what part of Africa are you from?

Me: I don't know, they didn't leave any records.

SH: Well, you must know where you're from, I spent time in France. Where are you from?

Me: Here, the UK.

SH: No, but what nationality are you?

Me: I am born here and am British.

SH: No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?

Me: 'My people', lady, what is this?

SH: Oh I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you're from. When did you first come here?

Me: Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the 50s when...

SH: Oh, I knew we'd get there in the end, you're Caribbean!

Me: No lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality.

SH: Oh so you're from...

What has Fulani said about the incident?

Fulani tweeted: “I think it is essential to acknowledge that trauma has occurred and being invited and then insulted has caused much damage.

She wrote: “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 2 other women we were stunned into temporary silence. I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled & engaged briefly, with those who spoke to me until I could leave.”

She added: “It was such a struggle to stay in a space you were violated in.”

Speaking to the Independent, Fulani also accused the palace of "institutional racism".

This is bigger than one individual," she said. "It’s institutional racism."

“What’s the lesson here? When I drove into the palace, the car was searched and we were searched, as you would expect, because they have to protect the household. But what protects us, Black people, from that treatment? This incident is unfortunate and shows that nothing has changed.”

“My nature is not that somebody of senior years should be vilified even though she did it to herself. I don’t want to be part of that. I’m old school. This is an elder and that’s not an excuse, but I’m thinking why don’t we just do something different such as pull her up, re-educate, demote her, keep her from public-facing roles? Having been in this position for decades, it’s horrible that she goes out like this because of ignorance and racism.”

Meanwhile, she told the Guardian the first “no no” was Hussey moving her hair.

“Here I am in this place as part of the 16 days of activism, experiencing non-physical violence – you feel like you have the right to approach me, put your hand in my hair and insist I don’t have the right to British nationality. In a space like that, what do you do?”

She said she had “never felt so unwelcome or so uncomfortable”.

She said: “I was almost forced to say that I’m not really British. I don’t know what she meant by ‘my people’. It was incomprehensible for her to consider that I have British citizenship. When she heard my parents were from the Caribbean she said: ‘Finally we are getting somewhere’ … It was overt racism."

Of Hussey’s resignation, she said: “It’s tragic for me that it has ended that way. I would have preferred that she had been spoken to or re-educated.”

How has the palace responded?

In its statement, 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. 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."

A spokesperson for Prince William said "racism has no place in our society".

"The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect," they said.

How have other people reacted?

Fulani received a number of supportive messages from people including MPs and journalists.

Who is Lady Susan Hussey?

Lady Hussey, 83, is Prince William's godmother and was a close friend of the late Queen, even accompanying her at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral last year.

She is the daughter of Geoffrey Waldegrave, the 12th Earl Waldegrave and Mary Hermione, Countess Waldegrave, and was married to the late BBC chairman Marmaduke Lord Hussey.

In 2013, she was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen – the highest rank personally granted by the sovereign.

Following the Queen's death, she was appointed the role of lady of the household to help King Charles at formal occasions.

What other race rows has the palace faced?

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, claimed last year that a member of the royal household raised concerns about what colour skin her son Archie would have before he was born.

Meanwhile, the palace has been criticised over its workplace diversity data, and royal tours to Caribbean countries in recent years have been met with backlash.

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