Buckingham Palace now considers ‘disastrous’ race row between Lady Susan Hussey and black charity boss Ngozi Fulani to be ‘closed’ after face-to-face apology as King Charles hopes to draw a line under ‘highly embarrassing incident’, royal expert claims
- Lady Susan, 83, resigned after her comments were revealed online last month
- Buckingham Palace announced Lady Hussey had met Miss Fulani this morning
- Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliam said ’embarrassing’ incident was now ‘closed’
- Called meeting a ‘welcome outcome’ and criticised trolls for targeting activist
Buckingham Palace now considers the ‘disastrous’ race row between Lady Susan Hussey and black British charity boss Ngozi Fulani to be ‘closed’ after the former lady-in-waiting apologised in person, a royal expert has said.
Lady Hussey, 83, repeatedly asked the charity boss ‘what part of Africa are you from?’ at a royal reception last month but the King and Queen Consort are said to be ‘pleased’ for the ‘welcome outcome’ after she expressed her ‘sincere apologies’ – which Buckingham Palace said Miss Fulani accepted.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline that the incident was ‘highly embarrassing’ and ‘King Charles has always championed diversity and inclusion’.
The former lady-in-waiting, who served the late Queen for six decades, stepped down from her honorary role ‘with immediate effect’ amid a furious outcry after Miss Fulani tweeted about her experience at the event.
Lady Susan Hussey (left) meeting Ngozi Fulani, founder of the charity Sistah Space in the Regency room in Buckingham Palace
Ngozi Fulani said she had suffered ‘horrific abuse’ on social media since the incident
Buckingham Palace today said that Lady Susan ‘has pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more’
The scandal prompted an intervention from Prince William, with the heir to the throne criticising his godmother’s ‘unacceptable comments’ and saying ‘racism has no place in our society’.
Mr Fitzwilliam said: ‘King Charles has always championed diversity and inclusion.
‘This was a highly embarrassing incident and the detail and tone of the Palace statement made clear how seriously it was taken, as the coverage it received worldwide was disastrous, especially since Lady Hussey is Prince William’s godmother and after the allegations of racism made by the Sussexes.
‘It was highly significant that Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey had an amicable meeting and that the matter is now regarded by the Palace as closed.
‘It is to be hoped that the Royal Household will become more diverse, currently under 10 per cent are persons of colour, in the near future.
‘It is extremely important that it reflects contemporary Britain more accurately.’
Ngozi Fulani and Lady Hussey now want to ‘rebuild their lives in peace’ following the ‘distressing’ past few weeks, the Palace said in a statement.
It added that the King and Queen Consort were ‘pleased that both parties have reached this welcome outcome’, and criticised the ‘torrent of abuse’ Miss Fulani has since received on social media.
The Palace said today: ‘At this meeting, filled with warmth and understanding, Lady Susan offered her sincere apologies for the comments that were made and the distress they caused to Ms Fulani.
‘Lady Susan has pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the issues in this area.
‘Ms Fulani, who has unfairly received the most appalling torrent of abuse on social media and elsewhere, has accepted this apology and appreciates that no malice was intended.
What is Sistah Space?
Sistah Space is a not-for-profit charity which supports women and girls of African heritage who are victims of domestic violence.
The charity was founded in 2015 in direct response to the tragic murder of Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old daughter by Valerie’s ex-partner.
In a statement last month, Sistah Space said: ‘It’s been an extremely challenging but rewarding journey of love and care.
‘Starting as a small idea in 2015 and continuing seven years later with the advocacy, training and support we offer today.’
‘Both Ms Fulani and Lady Susan ask now that they be left in peace to rebuild their lives in the wake of an immensely distressing period for them both.
‘They hope that their example shows a path to resolution can be found with kindness, co-operation and the condemnation of discrimination wherever it takes root.
‘It is the wish of both parties that, at the end of the UN’s 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, attention can now return to the important work of Sistah Space in supporting women affected by domestic abuse.
‘Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort and other members of the Royal Family have been kept fully informed and are pleased that both parties have reached this welcome outcome.’
Miss Fulani says she was left feeling ‘violated’ after Prince William’s godmother, who served as the late Queen’s right-hand woman for 62 years, ‘interrogated’ her about where she was from at a Palace reception, despite her making clear she was British.
She also accused Lady Susan of moving her hair in order to look at her name badge and asked her: ‘What part of Africa are you from?’ when she replied that she came from Hackney.
Only when the domestic violence campaigner said she was of Caribbean descent and African origin did Lady Hussey stop, saying: ‘I knew we’d get there in the end.’
Ms Fulani, 57, later posted a transcript of the exchange on social media, which led to a furious outcry, leading Lady Susan to quit her post.
Sources have previously told the Mail that while there was no doubt that the comments were made, ‘absolutely no malice was intended’.
Miss Fulani previously described her Buckingham Palace ordeal as a ‘form of abuse’.
She also said Lady Susan moved her dreadlocks during the exchange so she could read her name badge.
‘That’s a no-no,’ Miss Fulani said. ‘I wouldn’t put my hands in someone’s hair, and culturally it’s not appropriate.’
She added: ‘Although I didn’t experience physical violence, what I feel I experienced was a form of abuse.’
Ms Fulani (left) at Buckingham Palace for the event attended by the Queen Consort (right)
Miss Fulani also dismissed suggestions Lady Hussey’s comments were down to her age.
She told 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.’
Miss Fulani has received widespread support since the event, including from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s long-time friend, celebrated photographer and social activist Misan Harriman, who described her as ‘a GIANT in her field’.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘She has dedicated her life to protecting women that are survivors of domestic violence.
‘They should have known who she was and celebrated the fact that she is one of the souls that makes this country great.’
Mr Harriman famously announced Meghan was expecting her second child with a black and white image of the Sussexes in February last year, in which Harry could be seen resting his hand on his wife’s head as she lay in his lap.
He also contributed a stunning collection of portraits of Miss Fulani and fellow members of the Sistah Space community in an article for British Vogue last year.
Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor in the north of England who helped convict the Rochdale grooming gang, later revealed he was also asked about his ‘heritage’ by Lady Susan at the now infamous royal reception.
Mr Afzal, who has repeatedly received racial abuse including Pakistani slurs during his career, said: ‘She (Lady Susan) only asked me my heritage once and seemed to accept my answer – Manchester currently! Racism is never far away though.’
It recently emerged Sistah Space could face an official probe into its finances in response to a string of claims made online.
The Charity Commission is reportedly ‘assessing material’ related to the charity, which offers support to victims of abuse and violence within the African and Caribbean communities.
Meanwhile the Greater London Assembly is now said to be re-examining whether thousands of pounds in grant money given to the charity was ‘used as intended’.
A Sistah Space spokesperson told the Telegraph: ‘Sistah Space has not been approached by the Charity Commission.
‘What we do know is they are assessing information posted on social media, part of their normal procedure, but haven’t opened an official investigation, however should they contact us we will of course cooperate fully.’
‘Lady Susan offered her sincere apologies’: The full statement issued by Buckingham Palace
A meeting took place this morning, 16th December, at Buckingham Palace between Ms Ngozi Fulani, founder of Sistah Space, and Lady Susan Hussey to address the incident that took place at a Palace reception last month.
At this meeting, filled with warmth and understanding, Lady Susan offered her sincere apologies for the comments that were made and the distress they caused to Ms Fulani.
Lady Susan has pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the issues in this area.
Ms Fulani, who has unfairly received the most appalling torrent of abuse on social media and elsewhere, has accepted this apology and appreciates that no malice was intended.
The Royal Households will continue their focus on inclusion and diversity, with an enhanced programme of work which will extend knowledge and training programmes, examining what can be learnt from Sistah Space, and ensuring these reach all members of their communities.
Both Ms Fulani and Lady Susan ask now that they be left in peace to rebuild their lives in the wake of an immensely distressing period for them both.
They hope that their example shows a path to resolution can be found with kindness, co-operation and the condemnation of discrimination wherever it takes root.
It is the wish of both parties that, at the end of the UN’s 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, attention can now return to the important work of Sistah Space in supporting women affected by domestic abuse.
Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort and other members of the Royal Family have been kept fully informed and are pleased that both parties have reached this welcome outcome.
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