Royal aide apologizes in person to Black charity boss for asking where she was ‘really from’
By Arnaud Siad and Max Foster, CNN
A meeting “filled with warmth and understanding” took place on Friday between an honorary royal aide and the Black charity founder she repeatedly asked where she was “really from,” according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.
Susan Hussey offered her “sincere apologies” to Ngozi Fulani for her comments and “the distress” they caused her.
She pledged to “deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the issues in this area.”
The statement added that Fulani has “accepted this apology and appreciates that no malice was intended,” and noted she had “unfairly received the most appalling torrent of abuse on social media and elsewhere.”
Fulani, the founder of Sistah Space, and the royal aide have asked to be “left in peace to rebuild their lives in the wake of an immensely distressing period for them both.”
Hussey stepped down from her role in Buckingham Palace after the incident this month. She served as the late Queen Elizabeth II’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years and is a godmother to the Prince of Wales.
Speaking to the BBC in the aftermath of the event, Fulani said: “It was like an interrogation.
“Although it’s not physical violence — it is an abuse.”
She added: “I have to really question how this can happen in a space that’s supposed to protect women against all kinds of violence.”
The incident has raised uncomfortable questions for the royal institution. Diane Abbott, a Labour MP who represents Fulani and the first Black woman elected to the House of Commons in 1987, told CNN that she had been “shocked.”
“It’s 2022, and somebody can speak like that and think like that,” she said.
Abbott said the suggestion that a Black person is not truly British is less prevalent today then decades ago, but still exists generationally.
“King Charles III and a lot of people around him are very committed now to modernizing the monarchy. They want to modernize it, they want to keep it relevant,” Abbott said. “But this sort of incident takes them back.”
“Meghan Markle talked about this, and she got roundly abused — and she’s still the target of negativity in the British press,” Abbott added, referring to the Duchess of Sussex. “I think this incident shows that what Meghan Markle was trying to indicate is true.”
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CNN’s Rob Picheta contributed reporting.