Queen Elizabeth’s aide, Lady Susan Hussey, resigns over racism

Lady Susan Hussey – Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The late queen’s longest-serving lady-in-waiting resigned on Wednesday after being accused of ‘interrogating’ a Buckingham Palace guest to find out where she ‘really’ came from.

Lady Susan Hussey, who had remained in an honorary role to support the new king, was said to have made “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” to a black British-born domestic violence campaigner after asking her “where in Africa” she was from.

Buckingham Palace said it took the incident “extremely seriously” and investigated immediately. The King and Queen Consort are believed to be “aware” of the incident, although the matter has been addressed by senior aides.

Lady Hussey, 83, was Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years and is godmother to the Prince of Wales.

A spokesman for the prince said he believed “the course of action being taken is correct”. On Wednesday he embarks on a three-day trip to the United States, which is now in danger of being overshadowed by the damning allegations.

The conversation came at a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen Consort, her first major event of the new reign, to salute the work of domestic violence campaigners.

Ngozi Fulani, the British-born director of east London charity Sistah Space, said she remained

Ngozi Fulani, the British-born director of east London charity Sistah Space, said she was ‘stunned by the temporary silence’

After the event, Ngozi Fulani, the director of east London charity Sistah Space, said a building representative who called “Lady SH” on social media had approached her within ten minutes of arriving. flicking her hair to see her name badge, before asking persistent questions as to where she came from.

She said she was “stunned by the temporary silence”, finding “such a struggle to stay in a space that [she was] violated in”.

“I think it’s essential to recognize that trauma has occurred and being asked and then insulted has done a lot of damage,” she said.

Lady Hussey was one of three faithful ladies-in-waiting to the late Queen kept in unpaid honorary roles to aid the King, now known as “Ladies of the Household”.

He was on reception duty welcoming guests and representing the royal house.

“Unacceptable and deeply regrettable”

Hours after the account of Ms Fulani’s conversation was made public on Twitter, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “We take this incident extremely seriously and have been investigating immediately to establish all the details.

“In this case, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made. We have contacted Ngozi Fulani about this matter and are inviting you to discuss all elements of your experience in person if you wish.

“In the meantime, the affected person would like to express his deepest apologies for the pain caused and has stepped down from his honorific role with immediate effect.

“All family members are reminded of the diversity and inclusiveness policies they are expected to uphold at all times.”

A spokesman for the Prince and Princess of Wales added it was “really important to note that racism has no place in our society”, calling the comments “unacceptable”.

Prince William was briefed on the incident before boarding a plane to London, the spokesman confirmed, saying he had no involvement in Lady Hussey’s resignation but believed “the course of action being taken is correct”.

The alleged conversation occurred at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday during a reception where 300 guests joined the queen consort in honoring their work in campaigning against domestic abuse and violence against women - Kin Cheung

The alleged conversation occurred at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday during a reception where 300 guests joined the queen consort in honoring their work in campaigning against domestic abuse and violence against women – Kin Cheung

Ms Fulani’s charity provides specialist support to African and Caribbean women affected by abuse.

Mandu Reid, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, who stood next to Ms Fulani and witnessed the exchange, said they were treated like “intruders” at the palace.

He described the conversation as “gloomy” and like an “interrogation”, adding: “He was really insistent. He didn’t take Ngozi’s answers at face value.”

Following the news of Lady Hussey’s resignation, Fulani said the “level of harm” by a palace representative needs to be “addressed”, but that he had not called for personal action against her.

“She’s an old woman,” he said. “This doesn’t please me.”

She said she has not yet been contacted directly by the palace. It is understood that her aides have “contacted” her through the charity, expressing hope to discuss the incident further and apologize in person.

William Shawcross, the Queen Mother’s official biographer, said Lady Hussey had given “60 years of impeccable service to the Queen” and during that time she “never displayed a trace of racism”.

Mr Shawcross told The Telegraph: ‘Many of us have asked strangers of all colors and accents where they are from. It is no more racist than it is for family members to speculate about the physical characteristics of an unborn child.

“Sue Hussey has dedicated her life to one of the most important institutions in this country. Like the queen she served, she never went wrong.”

The allegations surfaced when the Prince and Princess of Wales flew to Boston for a three-day trip organized around his Earthshot Prize, in which he is expected to meet President Joe Biden.

Lady Susan Hussey - John Stillwell/PA

Lady Susan Hussey – John Stillwell/PA

The timing for the royal couple couldn’t have been worse. Their latest overseas tour, in the Caribbean, was marred by criticism of its “colonial overtones” and “deaf” imagery.

However, they are not expected to address the matter further as they try to keep the focus on climate change and the Earthshot ceremony, which takes place on Friday evening.

British and American officials reportedly hastily compared schedules on Wednesday in hopes they could find a window allowing for a meeting between the royals and Mr. Biden.

A US-based source told the Telegraph an impromptu meeting could take place, noting that it would be unusual for the Prince of Wales not to meet the President if both were in the same city.

“There is an expectation that they will meet and we are looking at the diaries to try and find a suitable window,” they said.

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