Lady Susan Hussey, one of Queen Consort Camilla’s closest aides, has quit today after she allegedly refused to believe a black domestic abuse campaigner was British and asked her: ‘What part of Africa are you from?’
Ngozi Fulani, director of the east London charity Sistah Space, said she was so shocked by the incident at Buckingham Palace yesterday that she ‘couldn’t report it to the Queen Consort’ who had thrown the reception.
Lady Hussey’s resignation is a disaster for her godson Prince William, who lands in the US with the Princess of Wales for a three-day tour now at risk of being overshadowed by the race row.
Referring to the aide as Lady SH, Ngozi Fulani said being asked by a member of the royal household where she ‘really came from’ at Camilla’s major engagement on violence against women on Tuesday will ‘never leave me’.
Lady Hussey was outed in a series of tweets that will be acutely embarrassing for the Royal Family, who were accused of racism by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after Megxit.
Ngozi Fulani (pictured centre at Buckingham Palace yesterday), director of the east London charity Sistah Space, claims royal aide, believed to be Lady Susan Hussey, asked her: ‘What part of Africa are you from?’
Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales, flew to Boston today
Ms Fulani shared this transcript of the alleged incident but said the rest of the event was a ‘blur’
A royal source confirmed to the Mirror that Lady Susan Hussey had departed from her honorary role in the Queen Consort’s household. She was the Queen’s most senior Lady in Waiting and nicknamed Her Majesty’s ‘Number One Head Girl’ by royal staff.
As a new race row engulfed the royals, Buckingham Palace said it took the incident, at the Queen Consort’s reception on violence against women on Tuesday, ‘extremely seriously’ and had investigated immediately.
A spokesman 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.’
The row emerged hours before the Prince and Princess of Wales took off for Boston this morning for a three-day trip to the US culminating with a possible meeting with President Joe Biden and the Earthshot Prize awards ceremony on Friday.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who released their latest Invictus Games trailer today, made headlines around the world when they accused a senior member of the royal family of being racist towards Archie and his skin colour during their 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Camilla gave a speech at yesterday’s event for 300 people where she owed to speak out about the ‘global pandemic of violence against women’ in a watershed speech at Buckingham Palace yesterday.
She was watched by two other Queens – Rania of Jordan and Mathilde of Belgium – Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and the Countess of Wessex. Other ambassadors included Spice Girl Melanie Brown and Love Island star Zara McDermott who have campaigned on issues including domestic abuse and revenge porn.
Also in the room was Ms Fulani, who said on Twitter today that she had been ‘insulted’ by a palace aide who she accused of asking ‘where she was really from’ when she said she was from Hackney.
The royal aide, who has not been named, then allegedly said: ‘No but where do you really come from? Where do your people come from? When did you first come here?’
Ms Fulani claims she then said: ‘Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the 50s’, to which the woman replied: ‘I knew we’d get there in the end. You’re Caribbean’. Ms Fulani replied: ‘No lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality’.
The Sistah Space founder said this morning: ‘Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace. 10 mins after arriving, a member of staff approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge. The rest of the event is a blur’.
She said: ‘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.
‘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 2 women, that we were stunned to temporary silence. I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled & engaged briefly with who spoke to me until I could leave’.
She added: ‘My children and grandchildren were proud though, in my parent’s time, black people were only allowed in to those spaces to serve. Kind of glad my folks were not around to witness this violation.
‘I let my guard down. Never again. It was such a struggle to stay in a space that you were violated in.
‘I think it is essential to acknowledge that trauma has occurred and being invited and then insulted has caused much damage’.
MailOnline has asked Buckingham Palace to comment.
She thanked Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, and Safe Lives chief executive Suzanne Jacob for their support on the day.
Ms Reid, the first person of colour to lead a national political party in British history, tweeted that she had also heard the exchange.
‘I was right there. I witnessed this first hand,’ she said. ‘We were at an event that was supposed to celebrate our work. For people like … people like us will never really belong here’.
Meghan and Harry’s favoured journalist Omid Scobie was quick to pick up on the claims about racism at the Palace, tweeting: ‘Yesterday’s event should have been a moment to uplift and support. The fact that Fulani—a prominent figure providing the only safe space in Britain for Black survivors of domestic violence—was made to feel this way by a senior Palace aide is unforgivable’.
Ms Fulani has been a firm supporter of Meghan and Harry herself, even making the startling claim last year that the Duchess was a victim of ‘domestic violence’ from other members of the Royal Family.
She made the claim in March 2021, just after Piers Morgan resigned from Good Morning Britain after saying he did not believe Meghan’s claims about her requests for mental health treatment being refused by palace officials.
Ms Fulani tweeted: ‘Our charity supports black women DV survivors. I can’t stay silent about this. I admire Meghan for speaking out. According to clear definition, it seems Meghan is a survivor of DV from her in-laws.
Ms Fulani said she had been ‘insulted’ by a palace aide who she accused of asking ‘where she was really from’ when she said she was from Hackney
The domestic abuse charity founder tweeted about the incident this morning
Queen Consort Camilla has hosted Queen Rania of Jordan and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark ahead of the reception at Buckingham Palace yesterday
In a profile on the Future Hackney website, Ngozi Fulani told how her parents came to London from the Caribbean, with most of her six siblings born in Britain.
‘We were the only black family in our road,’ she recalled.
‘The barriers that we faced outside were never brought into the house and my mum and dad embraced everybody. They taught us to be proud of who we are.’
She was running an African dance school in Hackney when she became concerned at the amount of domestic abuse suffered by Afro-Caribbean woman and decided to act.
‘Black women were saying ‘nobody is listening and nobody cares’. Perpetrators were getting away with a slap on the wrist,’ she told the Guardian.
It was the 2014 brutal machete murder of young mother Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old daughter by the toddler’s father which drove her to launch Sistah Space.
She says domestic abuse is rife in the African and Carbbean community, especially among women aged between 40 and 70.
The row may overshadow the start of William and Kate’s crucial trip to the US.
Boston’s landmarks will be lit up green by the Prince and Princess of Wales when they begin a three-day visit to the US culminating in the Earthshot Prize awards ceremony.
William and Kate begin their first official overseas trip since the death of the Queen with a welcome event outside Boston City Hall attended by Michelle Wu, the city’s mayor.
From Speaker’s Corner the couple will formally begin the countdown to Earthshot, being hosted by Boston on Friday, by lighting up City Hall and other prominent buildings green.
Superstar singer Billie Eilish will lead a stellar line-up for the awards ceremony, founded by William to recognise and scale-up environmental solutions to repair the planet.
Other acts to feature are Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding and Beyonce proteges Chloe x Halle, performing at the MGM Music Hall in Boston.
A royal source said: ‘The prize has become the Prince’s Superbowl moment of the year, and he looks forward to continuing to use the platform each year to shine a light on some of the most impactful projects doing amazing things around the world to save our planet’s future.’
The Earthshot Prize is now in its second year, and among the 15 finalists vying for £1million awarded to each of the five category winners are a cleaner-burning stove initiative in Kenya and a bubble barrier made in the Netherlands to prevent plastics entering oceans.
There are also finalists from the UK for the first time, with two British-based entries selected.
Notpla Hard Material – a start-up run by Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez in London – makes packaging from seaweed and plants as an alternative to single use plastic, and has already produced more than one million biodegradable takeaway food boxes for the firm Just Eat.
The other UK finalist – Low Carbon Materials, based in County Durham – uses unrecyclable plastic waste to make traditional concrete blocks carbon-zero.
Broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, a supporter of the Earthshot Prize since its inception, will voice the opening of the show while Oscar-winning actress and Earthshot judging panel member Cate Blanchett will narrate a lookback at the 2021 winners.
Billie Eilish (left) is expected to perform at the Prince of Wales’ Earthshot Prize awards in Boston; Cate Blanchett (right) will also feature in the Earthshot event
Actor Rami Malek, who played singer Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, will present an award, as will actress Catherine O’Hara, best known for starring in the film Home Alone, and environmental activist and actress Shailene Woodley.
William and Kate are also keen to meet local communities during their visit to Boston, which is famed for its Irish heritage, sports and history.
During their visit William and Kate will visit the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum with Caroline Kennedy, the late president’s daughter.
The prince and princess will learn about the work local organisations are doing to mitigate the risk of rising sea levels to Boston, and when they tour the Greentown Labs, in the nearby town of Somerville, they will get an insight into the development of innovative green technologies.
At the premises of Roca, a non-profit organisation supporting disadvantaged young people, they will hear about the issues they face and Kate, who launched the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in 2021, will visit the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
The Princess of Wales warned last night that ‘not enough is being done’ to help children in the first crucial years of their lives.
Kate, who as the Duchess of Cambridge took part in several campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood, pledged to use her new role to do ‘everything she can’ to nurture Britain’s youngsters.
She said: ‘There are fantastic examples of what can be achieved when we recognise the unique potential of early childhood and build a safe and loving world around a child.
‘But not enough is being done. That is why I am determined to continue to shine a light on this issue and to do everything I can to secure much greater focus on those first crucial few years for the youngest members of our society – they are, after all, our future.’
Setting out her mission for the next stage of her life in the Royal Family, the princess spoke about the ‘unique importance’ of the first five years of life, claiming it is possible to ‘create a healthier and happier society for future generations’.
Kate’s pledge follows a decade of work and royal engagements in which she has focused closely on early years development.
Next week, she will take her message to Boston in the US, as part of a three-day trip focused on the Prince of Wales’s Earthshot Prize. And in 2023 she is expected to launch another awareness-raising campaign as part of the next phase of the project.
Kate, 40, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘If we are going to tackle the sorts of complex challenges we face today like homelessness, violence and addiction, so often underpinned by poverty and poor mental health, we have to fully appreciate those most preventative years and do everything we can to nurture our children and those who care for them. We have an incredible opportunity, armed with all we now know as a result of the work of dedicated scientists, researchers and practitioners, to make a huge difference to the mental and physical health of generations to come.’
Amanda Berry, chief executive of the Royal Foundation charity which supports the work of Kate and William, said: ‘The Princess of Wales has developed a real knowledge and passion for this work over the past decade and has made it clear that in her new role her commitment is as strong as ever.
‘Ensuring that people understand the importance of the first five years of a child’s life and the huge impact early childhood has on shaping the rest of our lives will continue to be a major focus of Her Royal Highness’s work. This is also where The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood is uniquely placed to help.’