Updated as of 12/2/2022 9:30 a.m. ET
At an event hosted by Queen Consort Camilla, charity founder Ngozi Fulani had a disturbing encounter with an honorary Buckingham Palace staffer who insisted on knowing where in Africa she was from, per The Independent. Fulani finally spoke out in a BBC Radio interview, calling the interaction and “interrogation” a “form of abuse,” per The Guardian.
Honorary royal palace staffer Lady Hussey, 83, was accused of badgering Fulani with a series of questions demanding to know where she “really” came from.
“— But it soon dawned on me very quickly that this was nothing to do with her capacity to understand, but this is her trying to make me really denounce my British citizenship,” said Fulani to BBC Radio. “I don’t see the relevance of whether I’m British or not British. You’re trying to make me unwelcome in my own space.”
She said though she was invited to the royal palace to discuss her experience, she didn’t hear from any of the royal officials. She also confirmed that no one from the palace has reached out to her following the incident, despite a spokesperson’s claims that she had been invited back to discuss her experience, per CNN.
Hussey resigned from her position following the incident and apologized for her comments. A spokesperson for the Prince of Wales (ironically, Lady Hussey’s godson), further denounced Hussey’s comments saying “racism has no place in our society.” Fulani’s response to her resignation was less about the importance of receiving an apology but more about keeping the focus on the original purpose of her presence at the event.
“I would have preferred that I could go to a space where I’m invited and be treated as every other guest was treated. I would prefer that we kept the focus on the abuse against women and girls,” said Fulani.
Here’s a recap of Fulani’s interaction with Hussey:
First off, Lady Hussey began the conversation by touching Fulani’s hair (red flag), and moved her dreadlocks out of the way of her name tag.
Then she asked Fulani, who is British, ”Where are you from?” Fulani responded with the name of her organization, Sistah Space, which supports domestic abuse survivors of African and Caribbean descent. When Hussey asked again, Fulani responded with Hackney, London.
Finally, Hussey blurts out what she really wanted to know, according to Fulani: “No, what part of Africa are you from?”
“I don’t know. They didn’t leave any records,” Fulani responded. Unfortunately, the conversation didn’t end there.
Read the full interaction below:
Whew, did you read that? I’m interested to know what answer Hussey was looking for, though, her comments suggest she wasn’t completely sure either. It’s not like Fulani had been invited to a royal event to spend her time detailing her family heritage.
At the predominantly white institution (PWI) I went to, the Black freshmen used to introduce themselves in this way: “I’m Kalyn. I’m from New Jersey but I’m from-from Ghana.” The little “from-from” segment was a way to acknowledge where our African heritage came from before slavery. However, Ms. Fulani’s interaction felt more like an interrogation than a genuine inquiry.
“I think it is essential to acknowledge that trauma has occurred and being invited and then insulted has caused much damage,” Fulani said following the event, per The Independent.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said they are taking the situation seriously and called the comments “unacceptable and deeply regrettable.”
“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. 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,” the spokesperson said via CNN.
Although this situation was disappointing, it wasn’t so surprising. There will always be someone in a Black person’s business for no reason.