royal family

It’s Another Chapter of Racism and the Royal Family

Then-Prince Charles and Lady Susan Hussey at Royal Ascot earlier this year. Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Until recently, perhaps the biggest contretemps King Charles III had faced during his young reign involved his irritation at having to use faulty pens. That changed this week.

On Wednesday, longtime royal aide Lady Susan Hussey said she was leaving her role after she made prejudiced comments to a Black guest at a Buckingham Palace reception — an episode that immediately brought to mind Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle’s explosive allegation of royal racism last year.

At the reception, held Tuesday for organizations working against violence against women and girls, Hussey encountered Ngozi Fulani, who works for Sistah Space, an organization that helps women of African and Caribbean descent who have been victims of domestic violence. In a tweet that included a recap of the events, Fulani recounts how a woman she refers to only as “Lady SH” made a series of increasingly uncomfortable remarks about Fulani’s ethnic background, at one point asking her, “What part of Africa are YOU from?” Despite Fulani’s insistence that she had born and raised in England, Hussey kept pressing. Fulani tweeted that, after telling her that her parents had come to the U.K. in the 1950s, Hussey declared, “I knew we’d get there in the end, you’re Caribbean!””

The woman was identified in the press as Hussey, though Buckingham Police did not confirm her identity. In a statement, a palace spokesperson 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.” The spokesperson also specified that Hussey wanted to apologize for the incident and was stepping away from her role with the royals.

The palace’s quick response, which presumably included shoving Hussey out the door, contrasted with its hesitance to address the allegation Markle made during a blockbuster interview with Oprah Winfrey last year. The Duchess of Sussex claimed that, before she and Prince Harry’s son Archie was born, unnamed royals had raised concerns about his potential skin color. The palace’s brief statement days 36 hours later — in which it said, “While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately” — was criticized by many.

Per The Telegraph, Hussey had served as a lady-in-waiting for Queen Elizabeth II for more than 60 years and had stepped into an honorary role — formally a lady of the household — under King Charles III. She is a close friend of the king and is Prince William’s godmother. William’s spokesperson, speaking for himself, said, “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.”

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It’s Another Chapter of Racism and the Royal Family