Buckingham Palace Staffer Resigns After Racist Exchange With Black Guest


A member of the Buckingham Palace staff has resigned and apologized after questioning a Black British guest at the palace about where she was from and whether she was really British.

Ngozi Fulani is the CEO of Sistah Space, which provides support services to women of African and Caribbean heritage affected by domestic and sexual abuse across the United Kingdom. The non-profit specifically addresses issues of abuse at the intersections of racism and gender-based violence.  

On Tuesday, she was one of about 300 guests invited to Buckingham Palace for a reception organized by Queen Consort Camilla to raise awareness about gender-based violence against women and girls.

Fulani shared her account of the conversation online via the Sistah Space Twitter account after the event. According to the post, Fulani said that a staff member from the royal household approached her, brushed her locs aside to look at her name badge, and asked her: “Where are you from?”

She goes on to say that she was repeatedly asked where she is from and what her nationality is, including inquiries such as “what part of Africa are you from?” and after responding that she was born in England and is British was asked, “No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?”

The exchange continued with Fulani saying that she was told, “Oh, I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you’re from. When did you first come here?” to which she responded that she is a “British national of African heritage and Caribbean descent.”  

An eyewitness to the conversation, Mandu Reid, Leader of The Women’s Equality Project, told the BBC that the questions had been “offensive, racist and unwelcoming.”

Fulani said the incident has left her with “mixed feelings” about visiting the palace and that afterward, the “rest of the event was a blur.”

Although she did not identify the former staff member by name, only using the initials “SH” in her post, the BBC has said it is Lady Susan Hussey, the godmother of Prince William.

According to the Washington Post, a spokesperson said Buckingham Palace “investigated immediately” and that “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments’ had been made. They said the palace had reached out to Fulani and were “inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes.”

The palace also said that the member of the royal household who had the conversation “would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect. And that “All members of the Household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”

In an interview with British news outlet LBC, Fulani said that no one at the palace has reached out to her directly as yet, but would welcome a conversation.

The incident is likely to revive concerns that the palace is elitist and out of touch regarding issues of race and identity. In recent years, the palace has been accused of racist behavior, including its hiring practices decades ago and its treatment of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

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