THE Lady Susan Hussey affair, as it has become known, represents an astonishing and deeply troubling snapshot of modern Britain. I want to make it absolutely clear from the outset what I mean by that: my sympathies lie with Lady Susan, not with Ngozi Fulani, who has accused Lady Susan of racial abuse for asking her ‘Where do you really come from?’ when they met this week at a Buckingham Palace reception.
Lady Susan, 83, is an earl’s daughter, born before the Second World War, who became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen in 1960. To say that she represents another world barely covers it. Not only does her long career stretch back to a time when the British Empire still existed, but her entire life has been about service and duty to the Crown and, by extension, to the country. She was working for the Queen before Ms Fulani, 61, was even born. She comes from the top tier of what used to be called British society. Whereas some might have used such a position to indulge themselves, Lady Susan has lived, to a very large degree, selflessly. Of the handful of people I know who have met her, or who know her personally, each has said the same thing: she is as decent as they come and will be genuinely devastated and distressed today. As Prince William’s godmother, she has always occupied a special place in his life, and will have been available to him as a reassuring presence in times of need. Lamentably, the same cannot be said of him.
The story – as Ngozi Fulani tells it – is as follows. On Tuesday, she was invited to an event at the Palace hosted by the Queen Consort to mark the United Nations’ 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. She was present in her capacity as chief executive of a charity called Sistah Space, which supports women of African and Caribbean heritage who have suffered from domestic abuse. (I want to ask whether this charity would help any woman regardless of her racial origin but, given the times in which we live, I’m not sure whether this would be deemed acceptable!)
Ms Fulani claims that she was standing with two other women at the reception. They were approached by Lady Susan, who began chatting to them. Lady Susan moved Ms Fulani’s dreadlocked hair in order, presumably, to see her name badge and asked her several times where she was from. When Ms Fulani said she comes from Hackney, Lady Susan is said to have persisted, asking where she is really from and where ‘her people’ were from.
Ms Fulani apparently replied: ‘Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the 50s,’ to which Lady Susan is alleged to have said: ‘I knew we’d get there in the end. You’re Caribbean.’
Fulani answered: ‘No lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality.’
The day after, Ms Fulani posted online a transcript of this exchange and complained that being questioned about her heritage in this way was a violation.
I am desperate to know who had the presence of mind to compile a transcript of this conversation. I want to know if it was recorded on a device by one of the women present. And I’m keen to understand why this transcript has been accepted at face value.
But perhaps it’s too late for questions. For the damage to Lady Susan has been swift and brutal.
No sooner had Ms Fulani published her version of events than Buckingham Palace agreed that the comments were ‘unacceptable and deeply regrettable’ and said that Lady Susan had stepped down as a royal aide known as Lady of the Household. A Kensington Palace spokesman added, with Prince William’s blessing: ‘I was really disappointed to hear about the guest’s experience at Buckingham Palace last night. Racism has no place in our society. The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.’
‘The individual’? Wow. That is not just cold. It’s cutting, stinging and glacial. This is Prince William’s godmother, not some two-bit flunkey.
I am bound to ask: will the Royal Family stop at nothing to survive? Just like the Conservative Party, it seems hell-bent on abandoning its principles – even if that means sacrificing its loyalty to one of the late Queen’s closest friends – just to avoid one iota of controversy.
It has been pointed out that Miss Fulani once accused the Royal Family of domestic violence against the Duchess of Sussex. She made this claim in March 2021 after Piers Morgan resigned from Good Morning Britain for saying that he did not believe Meghan Markle’s claims in her interview with Oprah Winfrey about her requests for mental health treatment being refused by the Royal Family. At the time, Ms Fulani tweeted: ‘Our charity supports black women domestic violence survivors. I can’t stay silent about this. I admire Meghan for speaking out. According to clear definition, it seems Meghan is a survivor of domestic violence from her in-laws.’
This prompts another obvious question: why did Ms Fulani want to go anywhere near the Royal Family if she holds them in such low regard? I am as confused about this as I imagine Lady Susan Hussey must be.
Next we must ask: why have the mainstream media not bothered to look at Sistah Space’s paperwork? Its latest accounts clearly show that it collaborates with Black Liberation Movement UK. That is the official name in this country of Black Lives Matter, the Marxist organisation which wants to defund the police, among other things. (Would defunding the police help to counter domestic violence? I don’t see how).
Do Palace officials know about this collaboration? Do they realise what Black Lives Matter is all about? If they did know, was the invitation to Tuesday’s event extended to Ms Ngozi as part of some virtue-signalling drive to cast the Royal Family in a positive light?
By the way, Sistah Space’s latest annual return shows that of the £363,506 it received in the year ending March 31 2021, £52,346 came from two government contracts. When one thinks of the peanuts on which some small charities exist – and I count Sistah Space as a small charity – £363,506 a year is a lot of money. Come to that, so is the £52,346 that taxpayers have stumped up.
The event at Buckingham Palace was supposed to draw attention to violence against women. Yet, intentionally or otherwise, it has become all about Ngozi Fulani instead. Her name will have been in newspapers across the world by now. The message that the reception was trying to get across has been lost.
If Ms Fulani really felt so aggrieved by her conversation with Lady Susan, couldn’t she have raised this matter in a different way before trumpeting the conclusion that Lady Susan is a racist? It seems inconceivable that Lady Susan meant any harm. For someone so hurt as Ms Fulani claims to be, how is it that she can’t stop airing her grievance across the airwaves, on the BBC, ITV and Times Radio? Does she enjoy adding to Lady Susan’s discomfort and ‘shaming’ her further?
It’s too late, however. Lady Susan’s career has been ruined; her godson has abandoned her on the altar of political correctness just when she needed him most, and the King has been happy to watch all this unfold without publicly lifting a finger to speak up for a woman he has known his entire life.
Sadly, the Royal Family’s reputation has been badly dented by this affair – but not because people think it’s full of racists. It’s been damaged because it rushed to judgement and all right-thinking people can see it for what it is: a ruthless organisation which is willing to chuck overboard anybody if they even vaguely threaten to harm its quest to modernise. How shameful.
This is a sorry episode. And we should all feel very sorry for Lady Susan Hussey.