LONDON: A senior member of the Royal Household resigned on Wednesday for repeatedly asking a black British charity campaigner where she was “really” from, plunging Buckingham Palace into a new row of racism.
The controversy erupted as Prince William and his wife kate made his first visit in eight years to the United States, where his estranged brother Prince Harry and his mixed-race wife Megane Direct.
Susan Hussey, 83, godmother to William, has been named by British media as the woman in question who stepped down from her role as courtier to Queen Consort Camilla.
Ngozi Fulanithe managing director of the London-based Sistah Space group recounted the exchange on Twitter, referring to her only as “Lady SH”.
Fulani is a prominent advocate for survivors of domestic violence and was attending a reception at the palace on Tuesday with other activists.
After saying she was born and raised in the UK and was British, Fulani said ‘Lady SH’ asked her, “Where are you really from, where are your people from? ”
He was then asked, “When did you first come here?”
Fulani reiterated that she was a British national born in the UK and was forced to say that she was “of African descent, of Caribbean descent”.
The exchange, she said, left her with “mixed feelings” about the reception, which was hosted by Camilla to highlight violence against women and girls.
Buckingham Palace said it took the incident “extremely seriously” and called the comments “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.
“We have contacted Ngozi Fulani about this and invite her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes,” a statement read.
“In the meantime, the person concerned wishes to express his deepest apologies for the harm caused and has stepped down from his honorary role with immediate effect.
“All members of the household are reminded of the diversity and inclusiveness policies that they are expected to adhere to at all times.”
Hussey was a longtime “lady-in-waiting” to Queen Elizabeth II and has been described as one of the late monarch’s most trusted aides.
Camilla gave up official ladies-in-waiting roles, but Hussey, whose late husband was a former BBC president, was retained as a royal servant by Charles.
– East Coast rivalry – The feud threatens to cloud William and Kate’s three-day visit to Boston, where Charles’ heir will present the Earthshot Prize for initiatives to tackle climate change.
Last year, William insisted that “we are really not a racist family”, after Harry and Meghan alleged that an unidentified royal asked what color of skin their baby would have.
William has since hailed the “huge contribution” of the “Windrush” generation of Caribbean migrants, who helped Britain rebuild after the Second World War.
Although they arrived legally, many were later wrongfully detained and even deported under the Conservative government’s hardline immigration policies.
While William and Kate visit Boston, Harry and Meghan are due to travel to New York for another awards ceremony, although the feuding brothers apparently have no plans to meet.
Harry and Meghan left royal life at the start of 2020 and moved to California, winning a large following among young people and in the black community for confronting the British establishment.
The British media, however, have repeatedly accused them of exaggerating their plight as senior royals, but the couple could cite the latest allegations as vindication.
Earlier this year, the palace was accused of being deaf to pleas from Caribbean countries that still have Charles as head of state to acknowledge Britain’s past role in slavery.
William and Kate’s visit to Jamaica has also been criticized for overtones of colonialism.
Women’s Equality Party leader Mandu Reid, who attended Tuesday’s exchange, called it “grim” and “questioning.”
She said it felt like they were ‘not treated like we belonged’ or ‘like we were British’.

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