A prominent black advocate for survivors of domestic abuse has revealed how she was repeatedly asked by a member of the Buckingham Palace household at the Queen Consort’s reception where she “really came from”. Buckingham Palace has said comments made during a reception this week were “unacceptable and deeply regrettable” after a transcript was published on social media. On Tuesday, the Queen Consort hosted a special reception at Buckingham Palace, spotlighting gender-based violence against women and girls.
Over 300 people attended the Palace engagement, including a host of European royals, high-profile names and activists.
On Wednesday, the Twitter account for Sistah Space, an organisation dedicated to helping women from Caribbean and African communities access help for domestic violence, said their founder, Ngozi Fulani, had been invited to the Palace on that day.
The account said Ms Fulani had “mixed feelings” about the visit, attaching a transcript of what the account claimed was a conversation between her and a member of staff at Buckingham Palace shortly after she arrived.
A member of Palace staff was quoted as asking Ms Fulani where she was “really from”.
Following the publication of the comment on Twitter, the Palace confirmed a member of the household had resigned and apologised after “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments”.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “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.
“We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes.
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“In the meantime, 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.
“All members of the Household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”
Ms Fulani, who founded Sistah Space in 2015 to provide specialist support for African and Caribbean heritage women affected by abuse, wrote: “Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace.
“10 mins after arriving, a member of staff … approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge. The conversation below took place. The rest of the event is a blur.”
Ms Fulani said the exchange felt like a “violation”, adding the experience will “never leave me”.
She detailed the full alleged conversation, which she said happened 10 minutes after she arrived, on Twitter, which included the exchange: “Where are you from?’
“Me: ‘Here, UK’. ‘No, but what nationality are you?’ Me: ‘I am born here and am British.’ ‘No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?’ Me: “My people’, lady, what is this?’
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“Oh, I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you’re from.”
She thanked Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, and Safe Lives chief executive Suzanne Jacob for their support on the day.
Ms Reid, the first person of colour to lead a national political party in British history, tweeted that she had also heard the exchange.
She said: “I was right there. I witnessed this first hand. We were at an event that was supposed to celebrate our work.
“For people like … people like us will never really belong here.”
Responding to messages of support, Ms Fulani wrote: “Standing there in a room packed with people while this violation was taking place was so strange, especially as the event was about violence against women.
“That feeling of not knowing what to do, will NEVER leave me. Almost alone in a room full of advocates.”
She said it was a “struggle to stay in a space where you were violated”.
She outlined her distress at not being able to report the incident, saying she felt she could not tell Camilla.
“There was nobody to report it to. I could’nt (sic) report it to the Queen Consort, plus it was such a shock to me and the other 2 women, that we were stunned to temporary silence,” she wrote.
“I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled & engaged briefly with who spoke to me until I could leave.”
In the transcript posted online, Sistah Space identified the member of the royal household as a “Lady SH”.
She was then identified as Lady Susan Hussey, one of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s closest confidantes.
Lady Hussey was also named a godparent to the heir to the throne, Prince William.
She was one of the very few of the Queen’s trusted inner circle to be retained under King Charles’ leadership.