Prince William’s godmother resigns honorary royal role after allegation of racism

Buckingham Palace said Wednesday that an honorary member of the household has resigned after making “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” to a Black guest.

“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,” the palace said, without naming the person.

Mandu Reid, the leader of the British Women’s Equality Party, who witnessed the exchange, on Thursday identified the person as 83-year-old Lady Susan Hussey, Prince William’s godmother and a lady-in-waiting for the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Ngozi Fulani, the head of Sistah Space, a charity that supports victims of domestic abuse, alleged in a tweet that the household member repeatedly pressed her for information about her nationality.

The unnamed Buckingham Palace insider allegedly approached Fulani at a reception Tuesday hosted by the Camilla, queen consort, and asked her: “Where do your people come from?”

In a tweet, Fulani said she left her visit to Buckingham Palace with “mixed feelings” and described the encounter in detail.

She said the person came up to her 10 minutes after she arrived and “moved my hair to see my name badge.”

Fulani alleged that the household member peppered her with questions about her nationality and where she had “really come from,” even as she explained that she was a British national.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said it took this incident “extremely seriously,” adding that it had “investigated immediately to establish the full details.”

The statement did not identify Hussey.

The palace had “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 a radio interview Wednesday, Fulani said she had not been contacted.)

“All members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times,” the palace added.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Sistah Space thanked “everyone” for their support and explained that the organization did not want to name the person involved.

“It is the system that needs to be revised,” the organization said. “Yes the person was offensive, but it serves no purpose to name and shame her, it would make us just as bad. We prefer that this be handled kindly.”

On Wednesday, Reid tweeted that she saw the encounter take place: “I was right there. I witnessed this firsthand. We were at an event that was supposed to celebrate our work.

Lady Susan Hussey in Norwich, England, on Jan. 19, 2014.
Lady Susan Hussey in Norwich, England, in 2014. Max Mumby/Indigo / Getty Images file

“For people like Lady SH, people like us will never really belong here,” Reid added.

A spokesperson for William, the Prince of Wales, decried the encounter.

“I was really disappointed to hear about the guest’s experience at Buckingham Palace,” the spokesperson said in an email to NBC News. “Obviously, I wasn’t there, but 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 spokesperson added.

The allegations could put deeper scrutiny on Buckingham Palace, where an unnamed insider was accused last year by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, of racism against her unborn child.

In a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey last March, Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, said that in the months leading up to the birth of their son, Archie, a royal insider expressed “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

She did not specify who made the comments because that revelation would be “very damaging to them.”

Harry confirmed that he was questioned about the skin tone of his son, but he did not identify who made the remarks or when they were made.

Max Taylor contributed.

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