Royal household member quits after racist comments to Black British guest

Buckingham Palace, London
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Buckingham Palace apologised on Wednesday 30 November after a member of the royal household repeatedly asked a Black British charity campaigner where she “really” came from. The household member in question has now quit. Ngozi Fulani, the chief executive of the London-based Sistah Space, recounted the exchange with the unidentified woman on Twitter:

Fulani is a prominent advocate for survivors of domestic abuse. She was attending a reception at the palace with other campaigners on Tuesday 30 November. Sistah Space is a community-based group which offers domestic abuse services for African heritage women and girls.

Belonging

Fulani recounted how a ‘Lady SH’ repeatedly asked her:

Read on...

Where do you really come from, where do your people come from?

Fulani replied to say that she was “of African heritage, Caribbean descent”. But Lady SH forced her to repeat several times that she was a British national. Fulani said the exchange left her with “mixed feelings” about the reception, which was hosted by queen consort Camilla to highlight violence against women and girls.

People on social media took a dim view of the actions of ‘Lady SH’. Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid said:

Both The Times and LBC have reported that the ‘Lady SH’ in question is Susan Hussey, prince William’s godmother. Journalist Lorraine King expressed her disbelief:

Writer Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu called for more extensive apologies:

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) expressed their horror:

Buckingham Palace said it took the incident “extremely seriously” and called the comments “unacceptable and deeply regrettable,” adding:

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.

Diversity

Last year, the royal family revealed for the first time how many ethnic minority staff it employs and admitted it had not made sufficient progress on diversity. The focus on improving diversity followed claims from king Charles III’s youngest son Harry Windsor and his daughter-in-law Meghan Markle about racism in the royal family. At the time, the Canary‘s own Sophia Purdy-Moore explained the role mainstream media plays in anti-Blackness:

Black women are under-represented in journalism, over-represented in those receiving online abuse, and under-protected in both instances. The British public and mainstream media need to get with the times. And they must work to root out anti-Blackness, inherent bias, and white supremacy in all their forms.

The treatment of Fulani was nothing but anti-Blackness and characteristic of a Britain where you only belong if you’re white.

Featured image by Wikimedia Commons/Diliff via CC 3.0, resized to 770×403

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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