A black domestic abuse campaigner who was repeatedly asked where she “really came from” by Prince William’s godmother said she felt abused, verbally attacked and “trapped”.
Ngozi Fulani, founder of the charity Sistah Space, works as an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and described the exchange as a “violation”.
“I was not giving the answer that she wanted me to give. And so we could not move on,” she told Sky News.
“And it was when she said ‘I knew you’d get there in the end’ – that proved to me, you were determined to prove that I had no right to British citizenship.
“Now, that reminds me of the Windrush conversation, where 50 or 60 years on people who were born here, worked here or you know, have given so much, can just be thrown out.”
Lady Susan Hussey resigned from her role in the royal household and apologised over the incident at an event at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday hosted by the Queen Consort.
Describing how Lady Hussey touched her hair to see her name badge, the charity boss said: “Now, abuse doesn’t have to be physical. But if you move my hair without permission, to me, that’s abuse.
“When you verbally attack, because that to me is what it is – you are determined that the answer that I gave you is not one you want to hear, you do not recognise me as British.
“And until I acknowledge that I’m not, you’re not going to stop. What do I do? What do I do at that point? So I become silent. And I hoped she would go away and she eventually did.”
Asked how she felt about the conversation, she said: “I was the victim if you will, of an offence, of racism.
“When this happens, and it’s so direct, and in a space like that, I kind of felt trapped in that space.”
Asked if Buckingham Palace had contacted her, she said: “I haven’t heard anything from anybody. Maybe they’ve attempted to but they haven’t got through to me or to Sistah Space.”
‘Institutional racism in palace’
Pressed if there was a deeper problem, she replied: “So institutional racism, racism is a problem all over the UK. It’s in the police. It’s been established. It’s in the fire brigade/department, that’s established. It’s even in parts of the NHS. It’s a problem. And it’s in Buckingham Palace, one person isn’t responsible.
“They need to review their whole policy on equality and race. They need to have a conversation with the people who say they are affected.”
She said it had been a “difficult couple of days for various reasons”.
“One is, I’m still processing what happened at Buckingham Palace and the outrage that has followed has been interesting,” she said.
“Racism has no place in a venue that’s supposed to be a safe space for everybody, regardless of their background.”
William distances himself from race row
Buckingham Palace said it took the matter “extremely seriously” and had investigated immediately.
Prince William, who is on a three-day US visit with his wife Kate, is understood to agree it was right for Lady Hussey to step down from her honorary role as Lady of the Household with immediate effect.
Before he had landed in the US, the prince was told about his godmother’s comments.
A Kensington Palace spokesman told reporters in the US before the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Boston trip – which has been overshadowed by the palace controversy – that Lady Hussey’s comments were “unacceptable” and “racism has no place in our society”.
Later, during an NBA game William and Kate attended, the royal couple were booed by some members of the crowd, and at an Earthshot Prize event, they heard a speech on race equality by a black reverend.
Lady Hussey, who served as the Queen’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years, has offered her “profound apologies for the hurt caused”.
However, the monarchy has faced allegations of institutional racism since Ms Fulani revealed what had happened.
Lawyer ‘also asked about ethnicity’
Nazir Afzal, the University of Manchester chancellor, who was also at the palace reception, said he too was questioned by Lady Hussey about his origins.
The former chief crown prosecutor for the North West, tweeted: “I was at the Buckingham Palace reception at which Lady Hussey questioned the heritage of a brilliant [domestic violence] expert Ngozi Fulani.
“She only asked me my heritage once and seemed to accept my answer – Manchester currently!
“Racism is never far away though.”
No 10: Matter for the Palace
Downing Street declined to comment on the incident.
Pressed on whether the prime minister believed it was right for Lady Hussey to quit, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “It’s not one I’ve spoken to him about.
“It is a matter for the Palace and you’ll know they have issued a statement on it.”
Last year the Duchess of Sussex claimed that a member of the royal household raised concerns about what colour skin her son Archie would have before he was born.