Palace Aide Apologizes for Pressing Black Guest

Ngozi Fulani, a British citizen, says she was repeatedly asked where she was 'really from'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2022 11:15 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2022 3:40 PM CST
Black Guest Calls Exchange at Palace Event Traumatic
A photo from the reception.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, Pool)
UPDATE Dec 16, 2022 3:40 PM CST

An honorary Buckingham Palace aide who repeatedly asked a Black guest at a reception where she's "really from" apologized Friday in a meeting of the two that a royal statement described as "filled with warmth and understanding." Ngozi Fulani accepted Susan Hussey's apology, the statement said, and "appreciates that no malice was intended." The palace said that the episode has been distressing for both women, CNN reports, and that they now want to be "left in peace to rebuild their lives." Fulani has said she became subject to abuse on social media after revealing the conversation, and the charity she founded largely stopped operations last week over safety concerns, per the BBC.

Nov 30, 2022 11:15 AM CST

As Prince William and Kate land in Boston Wednesday in a visit designed to show a more modern monarchy, the palace is dealing with "unacceptable and deeply regrettable" remarks made by a household staff member at a Tuesday event back in London. The Guardian reports one of the late queen's ladies-in-waiting—William's godmother, Susan Hussey—has resigned and apologized after attending a reception hosted by Camilla, the queen consort, and having an exchange that a Black guest described as traumatic. Ngozi Fulani, the founder of the charity Sistah Space, says that within 10 minutes of arriving at the event, Hussey pushed Fulani's hair to the side in order to read her nametag and then hammered her with questions about where she was "from."

Fulani tweeted a description of the exchange, during which she says Hussey wouldn't back down after Fulani told her she was born in the UK and is British. A portion:

  • Hussey: "No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?"
  • Fulani: "'My people,' lady, what is this?"
  • Hussey: "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?"
  • Fulani: "Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the ['50s] when..."
  • Hussey: "Oh, I knew we’d get there in the end, you're Caribbean!"
  • Fulani: "No Lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality."

The Guardian notes two other women at the reception for raising awareness on violence against women and girls were present during the exchange. Fulani added in another tweet, "I think it is essential to acknowledge that trauma has occurred and being invited and then insulted has caused much damage." Buckingham Palace offered this statement: "We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full facts. In this instance unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made. We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and we 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." While the palace didn't identify Hussey by name, the New York Times notes that the "swiftness and strong language of the palace's statement suggested that King Charles III ... was intent on showing he would not tolerate any perception of racist behavior in the royal household." The BBC separately reports on an interview with the outgoing Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, who said Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was on the receiving end of "disgusting and very real" threats as a working royal. (Read more British royals stories.)

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