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Black domestic violence campaigner brands remarks at Palace a ‘form of abuse’

Ngozi Fulani was repeatedly asked where she ‘really came from’ by the Prince of Wales’s godmother, Lady Susan Hussey, at Camilla’s reception.

Ngozi Fulani (centre left) at the Buckingham Palace reception
Ngozi Fulani (centre left) at the Buckingham Palace reception

The black domestic abuse campaigner who was asked where she “really came from” at a royal reception has described what she experienced as a “form of abuse”.

Ngozi Fulani, founder of the charity Sistah Space, expressed her shock at her treatment by the late Queen’s lady in waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, but said she has yet to be contacted by Buckingham Palace to discuss the incident.

Lady Susan, the Prince of Wales’s 83-year-old godmother, resigned from the household and apologised after she repeatedly challenged Ms Fulani when she said was British at the Queen Consort’s reception highlighting violence against women and girls.

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.”

Describing how Lady Susan also touched her hair during 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.”

Member of Palace household comments
The Queen and her then lady in waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, who has resigned from the household (Chris Radburn/PA)

Ms Fulani said the comments were down to racism, not Lady Susan’s age.

“I’ve heard so many suggestions it’s about her age and stuff like that. And I think that’s a kind of a disrespect about ageism,” she said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Are we saying that because of your age you can’t be racist or you can’t be inappropriate?

“If you invite people to an event, as I said, against domestic abuse, and there are people there from different demographics, I don’t see the relevance of whether I’m British or not British. You’re trying to make me unwelcome in my own space.”

Ms Fulani said she wants the focus to remain on domestic abuse survivors rather than the race row.

Member of Palace household comments
Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space, ahead of travelling to the Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday (Sistah Space/PA)

Asked how she felt about Lady Susan’s resignation, 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.”

The Palace was understood on Wednesday to have reached out to Ms Fulani through one of the organisations with which she is aligned.

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.

Royal visit to Boston – Day 1
The Prince and Princess of Wales at a basketball game in Boston (Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA)

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, that the individual concerned had resigned and apologised and that the comments were “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.

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.”

The King, who acceded to the throne less than three months ago, and Camilla have been made aware of the situation, the Palace said.

But former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt told the PA news agency: “Charles and William’s problem is that the focus is already shifting from the actions of one woman to broader questions about whether Buckingham Palace is institutionally racist.”

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