I didn't want lady-in-waiting to resign, insists activist at centre of Buckingham Palace racism row

Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space - Sistah Space/PA
Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space - Sistah Space/PA

The activist at the centre of a Buckingham Palace racism row has insisted that she didn't want a senior lady-in-waiting to step down.

Lady Susan Hussey resigned yesterday after "interrogating" a black, British-born domestic violence campaigner by repeatedly asking where she was "really" from at a reception hosted by the Queen Consort.

Ngozi Fulani, the director of the east London charity Sistah Space, said: "She's employed by Buckingham Palace and it's their decision and her decision to make, one I had no part in. I would have preferred it did not happen."

Lady Hussey, 83, served as Queen Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years and is a godmother to the Prince of Wales.

Lady Susan Hussey - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Lady Susan Hussey - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Their conversation occurred at a Buckingham Palace reception hosted by Camilla, her first major event of the new reign, to hail the work of domestic violence campaigners.

Ms Fulani told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the incident was an "interrogation" by Lady Hussey to "denounce my British citizenship".

She said she was approached within ten minutes of arriving and that the 83-year-old moved her hair to see her name badge, before asking persistent questions about where she was from, including asking her "where are your people from".

'It is abuse'

The charity founder told the Today programme: "I'm very clear about what happened. You ask me where I’m from and I tell you from here, 'yeah but where are you really from'. I’m really from here. She said it more than once. And then 'where are your people from'.

"This is not appropriate...I have to really question how this can happen in a space that’s supposed to protect women against all kinds of violence. Although it’s not physical violence, it is abuse."

Lady Hussey was one of three of the late Queen’s loyal ladies-in-waiting kept on in unpaid honorary roles to aid the King, now known as "Ladies of the Household".

She was on duty at the reception to welcome guests and represent the royal household.

'I would have preferred it did not happen'

Ms Fulani added: "If you invite people to an event against domestic abuse and there are people there from different demographics, I don't see the relevance of whether I'm British or not British.

"I'm very proud of my African heritage, I make that clear.

"You're trying to make me unwelcome in my own space...what's out there is just a synopsis [of the conversation]."

"I would have preferred it did not happen, I would have preferred that I could go to a space where I’ve been invited and be treated as every other guest was treated," she said.

Buckingham Palace said it took the incident "extremely seriously" and had investigated immediately.

A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said he believes "the course of action taken is correct". He embarked on a three-day trip to the US yesterday, which now risks being overshadowed by the growing race row.