Ngozi Fulani said Buckingham Palace reception like an interrogation” and that she felt forced to “denounce British citizenship”

A black domestic abuse campaigner has said her interaction with the late Queen’s lady-in-waiting was “like an interrogation” and that she felt she was being forced to “denounce my British citizenship”

Ngozi Fulani, founder of the charity Sistah Space, was repeatedly asked where she was "really" from by Prince William's godmother Lady Susan Hussey, and said her treatment by the former lady-in-waiting was down to racism, not her age.

The black charity boss was questioned about her background at an event at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Lady Hussey, the Prince of Wales’s 83-year-old godmother, resigned from the household and apologised after asking Ms Fulani where she “really came from” at the royal reception.

Ms Fulani has said Buckingham Palace has not contacted her about the incident, but she would accept an invitation to discuss the matter with them. The Palace was understood on Wednesday to have reached out to Ms Fulani through one of the organisations with which she is aligned.

Ms Fulani told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Although I didn’t experience physical violence, what I feel I experienced was a form of abuse.”

Pressed on whether the Palace had contacted her via her organisation, Ms Fulani said: “No. I don’t know where this has come from, but I’m telling you categorically – we have not heard from the Palace.”

Asked how the conversation at the royal reception unfolded, Ms Fulani told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “like an interrogation”.

Undated handout photo issued by Sistah Space of Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space. The prominent black advocate for survivors of domestic abuse has revealed how she was repeatedly asked by a member of the Buckingham Palace household at the Queen Consort's reception where she "really came from".

“I guess the only way I can explain it, she’s determined – ‘where are you from? Where are your people from?'”

Ms Fulani explained she tried to give Lady Hussey the benefit of the doubt when the 83-year-old started questioning her.

“At that time, I’m thinking to myself ‘is it that she – because she keeps asking me the same question – could it be that she can’t hear me well?’ Because you have to consider so many things when you’re talking to someone who may be older than you.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But it soon dawned on me very quickly that this was nothing to do with her capacity to understand, but this is her trying to make me really denounce my British citizenship.”

Ms Fulani also said Lady Hussey touched her hair during the interaction.

“We support women of African and Caribbean heritage who are affected by domestic and sexual abuse,” she said of her charity work.

“Ironically, that’s the reason why we got the invitation, so the last thing we expected to happen was that race would become an issue.”

Describing the incident, she said: “I was stood next to two other women – black women – and she [Lady Susan] just made a beeline for me, and she took my locks and moved it out of the way so that she could see my name badge.

“That’s a no-no. I wouldn’t put my hands in someone’s hair, and culturally it’s not appropriate.

“But you consider that this lady is of senior years, I have to consider many things – is she OK?. And also my environment, and who I represent – Sistah Space – and so I was a bit taken aback.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Asked about how she felt about the interrogation, Ms Fulani stressed the focus should remain on domestic abuse survivors rather than the race row and subsequent resignation of Lady Hussey.

She said: “I want the focus to remain where it should be, which is on the women and girls who are affected by domestic abuse. Having said that, she’s influenced by Buckingham Palace, and it’s their decision and her decision to make, one that I had no part in.”

Asked if she would have preferred to accept Lady Susan’s apology instead of seeing her quit the household, Ms Fulani said: “I would have preferred it did not happen.

“I would have preferred that I could go to a space where I’m invited and be treated as every other guest was treated. I would prefer that we kept the focus on the abuse against women and girls.”

Ms Fulani said that if she received an invitation from the Prince of Wales to attend the palace and discuss her experience she would accept it, telling GMB: “See, what we’re about is positive results, so absolutely, I think a discussion should be held.

“We’re very happy to have that discussion, because we just want to bring it back to the 16 days of activism.

“This is about violence against women and girls, and although I didn’t experience physical violence, what I feel I experienced was a form of abuse.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A Kensington Palace spokesman issued a strong statement, saying: “Racism has no place in our society. The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.”

The Palace moved swiftly to respond to Ms Fulani’s tweets on Wednesday morning, saying it took the incident at Tuesday’s reception “extremely seriously” and had investigated immediately.

It added, not naming Lady Susan, the individual concerned had resigned and apologised and the comments were “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.

William, who is on a trip to the Boston in the US with the Princess of Wales, backed the decision of his godmother to resign as a Lady of the Household.

The Prince and Princess of Wales sat courtside to watch an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at the end of the first day of their visit to the US.

They stood for the national anthem The Star Spangled Banner, but later the royal couple were subject to small pockets of boos around the arena when they were introduced by a stadium announcer and shown on the big screen.

Downing Street declined to comment on Lady Susan’s resignation, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman telling reporters: “It is a matter for the Palace.”

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.