The late Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting has resigned and apologized after making “unacceptably profound and regrettable comments” by asking a prominent black advocate for domestic violence survivors where she “really comes from”.
Buckingham Palace said it took the incident at the reception of Britain’s Queen Consort on violence against women on Tuesday “extremely seriously” and immediately investigated it.
A source has confirmed to the PA news agency that the person who made the comments was Lady Susan Hussey, who served as lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth II for more than 60 years and is a godmother to Britain’s King Charles.
Prince William is understood to agree that Lady Susan was right to step down. A Kensington Palace spokesman told reporters in the US ahead of the Waleses’ trip to Boston: “Racism has no place in our society.
“The comments were unacceptable and it is correct that the individual has resigned with immediate effect.”
Sistah Space chief executive Ngozi Fulani detailed the conversation on Twitter, describing it as a “violation” and saying the experience “will never leave me.”
She only called the member of the palace household Lady SH, but the palace refused to confirm who it was.
Lady Susan, 83, who was invited to and served at the reception, has now stepped down from her honorary role as one of three ladies of the household, to which she has been newly appointed to assist the King on formal occasions.
Charles, who ascended 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: “Unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made in this case. We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter and invite her to personally discuss any elements of her experience if she so desires.
“Meanwhile, the person concerned would like to sincerely apologize for the pain caused and has resigned from their volunteer position with immediate effect.
“All members of the household are reminded of the diversity and inclusivity guidelines, which they must adhere to at all times.”
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, who stood next to Ms Fulani and witnessed the exchange, told the PA news agency they were being treated like “trespassers”.
Ms Reid said: “We really felt like, ‘oh, OK, we’re almost being treated like intruders in this place.
“‘We’re not treated like we belong, we’re not hugged like we’re British.'”
Describing the conversation as “grim” and like an “interrogation,” she added, “She was really persistent. She didn’t take Ngozi’s answers at face value.”
Ms Fulani described the encounter, which took place 10 minutes after arriving at the palace picture gallery, on social media, including the remarks: “‘Where are you from?’
“Me: ‘Here, Britain’. “No, but what nationality are you?” Me: ‘I was born here and I’m British.’ ‘No, but where are you really from, where are your people from?’ Me: ‘My people, lady, what is this?’
“‘Oh, I see I’m going to have a challenge to get you to say where you’re from.'”
Ms Fulani, who founded Sistah Space in 2015 to provide expert support to African and Caribbean women affected by abuse, wrote: “Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace.
“10 minutes after my arrival, a member of staff, Lady SH, walked up to me, tugged my hair to see my name tag. The following conversation took place. The rest of the event is hazy.”
She thanked Ms Reid, the first person of color to lead a national political party in British history, and Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of Safe Lives, for their support on the day.
In response to messages of support, Ms Fulani wrote: “It was so strange to be standing in a room full of people while this violation was taking place, especially as the event was about violence against women.
“This 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 room where you got hurt”.
Ms Fulani expressed desperation at not being able to report the incident and said she felt she had nothing to say to Camilla.
“There was no one I could report this to. I couldn’t (sic) report it to the Queen Consort plus it was such a shock to me and the other two women that we were stunned and temporarily breastfeeding,” she wrote.
“I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled, and briefly engaged with whoever was speaking to me until I could leave.”
Ms Jacob tweeted it was “a terrible thing to happen and in a space that should have been nothing but love and celebration” and said she would raise it with the team who had organized for her to be there .
The matter is a matter of serious concern for the palace, where an unnamed king was accused by the Duchess of Sussex of racism against her unborn son Archie last year.
A member of the Buckingham Palace household asked Schwarz…
Meghan, the first multiracial person to marry a senior royal in centuries, said during her Oprah interview that one royal – neither the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh – expressed concerns to Harry about how dark Archie’s skin color might be before he was born.
The Queen issued a statement saying the issues raised would be dealt with privately as family but that “some memories may vary”.
Sistah Space said they would not name the household member, adding, “At Sistah Space, we want to raise awareness of this issue rather than shaming another person.”
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