Who is Lady Susan Hussey? Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Number One Head Girl’ who resigned amid Buckingham Palace race row served the late monarch for 60 years and accompanied her to Prince Philip’s funeral

  • Lady Susan Hussey, 83, served as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II 
  • Following the Queen’s death, was kept on by the King as Lady of the Household
  • Has resigned from her role at the Palace and offered a ‘profound apology’

Buckingham Palace has today been rocked by a race row after a member of the household resigned following comments made towards a guest at Queen Consort Camilla’s reception to discuss ending violence against women.

Lady Susan Hussey, who was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II for decades and was retained by King Charles following his mother’s death, has resigned after allegedly asking Ngozi Fulani, a black woman who runs domestic abuse charity Sistah Space in Hackney: ‘What part of Africa are you from?’

Responding to the allegations made by Ms Fulani on Twitter, Buckingham Palace said it took the situation ‘extremely seriously’, adding Lady Susan Hussey had offered a ‘profound apology’ for her words. Her resignation ends a six-decades-long career within the Royal household which saw her become one of Queen Elizabeth II’s closest confidantes. 

Lady Susan Hussey, 83 (pictured in 2016 at a Service of Thanksgiving in memory of Sir Terry Wogan), has resigned from her honorary role as Lady of the Household in Buckingham Palace after she was accused by a black woman who runs Sistah Space domestic abuse charity of asking: ‘What part of Africa are you from?’

Lady Susan, 83, was welcomed into The Firm in 1960, around the time Her late Majesty gave birth to her third child, Prince Andrew, when she was employed to help answer letters addressed to the Royal household, Tatler reports. 

She is the youngest daughter of the 12th Earl of Waldegrave and the widow of Marmaduke Hussey, former chairman of the BBC who passed away in 2006. 

After assuming her role and becoming closer to the monarch, she soon became known as one of the late Queen’s ‘Head Girls’ as a lady-in-waiting. Before long, she was reportedly nicknamed the ‘Number One Head Girl’ as she continued to provide support to the Queen.

Throughout her time as a close confidante of the royal family, Lady Susan grew close to King Charles. So close, in fact, that he asked her to be Godmother to his eldest son, Prince William.

By the 1980s she was an expert in the inner workings of the royal family and royal convention, and is thought to have been one of the key figures in showing Princess Diana the ropes when she married into The Firm. When Diana appeared in the notorious BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir in 1995, Marmaduke Hussey was BBC chairman.

Lady Susan Hussey was a close friend and confidante of Queen Elizabeth II and served as her lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years. Pictured with Her late Majesty at the Gold Service Scholarship at Claridge’s in 2016

Lady Susan Hussey has been present alongside senior royals over the 60 years she served as one of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s ladies in waiting. Pictured L-R: Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Sophie Wessex, Princess of Wales, Lady Susan Hussey at Remembrance Sunday in Whitehall in 2012

She is also reported to have played a similar role in helping the Duchess of Sussex  acclimatise to life within the Royal Family. 

Although her role within the Royal Family has largely gone under the radar, eagle-eyed fans will have spotted her presence alongside several senior members over the years, accompanying them while out and about, but also standing in for the Queen when she was unable to attend an event such as a funeral.

Lady Susan has been present at Remembrance Sunday proceedings at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, where she has appeared on the balcony alongside Sophie Wessex, the Princess of Wales and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Princess Anne’s second husband.

She was also pictured alongside the King and Queen Consort at Royal Ascot this year, where the trio appeared glued to a race, with King Charles using binoculars to take a closer look.

In older photos, she has been spotted accompanying the Queen and the Princess Royal on trips in the car. 

Lady Susan Hussey has been a long-time friend of the King and Queen Consort, with the monarch asking her to be Godmother to Prince William when he was born. Pictured: Queen Consort, the King and Lady Susan at Royal Ascot, 2022

In 2013, Lady Susan Hussey was awarded a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Throughout her six decades of service, she has also received the Queen Elizabeth II Version of the Royal Household Long and Faithful Service Medal, which now has a 60-year bar.

During the pandemic, Lady Susan formed part of the ‘HMS Bubble’ during lockdown, which meant she was allowed to spend time with her close friend Queen Elizabeth II despite Covid restrictions on socialising. 

She was one of the few people allowed to accompany the late monarch to the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip. It is thought the Queen personally asked Lady Susan to sit with her on the way to St George’s Chapel for the scaled-back service, according to The Mirror.

In September, she also attended the state funeral of her long-time friend, Queen Elizabeth II, and had also attended Westminster Hall in previous days to pay tribute as the Queen’s coffin was lying in state.

As one of Queen Elizabeth II’s longest serving ladies-in-waiting, the King and Queen Consort decided to keep Lady Susan on as a Lady of the Household in Buckingham Palace, while her daughter Lady Brooke follows in her footsteps.

Her role, alongside two other ladies-in-waiting who were also kept on, was to assist Their Majesties while they hosted formal occasions at Buckingham Palace.

According to Royal Central, Lady Susan was present at the Palace last week when South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was welcomed to the UK on a state visit and attended a banquet in his honour alongside senior members of the royal family. 

Lady Susan Hussey was a close confidante of senior royals for several decades during her service as one of Queen Elizabeth II’s ladies-in-waiting. Pictured with Princess Anne

Lady Susan Hussey attended Westminster Hall in September to pay her respects to her long-time friend Queen Elizabeth II as her coffin was lying in state 

Katherine Brook (pictured at a garden party in 2013) is the daughter of Lady Susan Hussey, who served as Queen Elizabeth II’s lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years

Lady Brooke, a close friend of Queen Consort Camilla and King Charles for many years, was announced by the Palace last weekend as a ‘Queen’s Companion’. 

Camilla, 74, named the six close confidantes, who will receive a nominal fee to cover their expenses in much the same way as ladies-in-waiting, but will not hold the traditional title and will not perform quite the same role.

While Lady Booke’s role as a Queen’s companion will mark a new generation of her family in the royal household, Lady Susan’s time with the Royal Family has come to an end. 

During the violence against women reception held at Buckingham Palace yesterday afternoon, Ngozi Fulani told the Mirror she was subjected to ‘prolonged racism’ during her conversation with Lady Susan Hussey.

She said: ‘It was like an interrogation. This wasn’t just a few seconds, it was concerted over several minutes. It felt, as three black women, that we were trespassers, that we were not welcome or accepted as British.’

Responding to the allegations, Buckingham Palace 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.’

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