Social Justice

Sistah Space’s CEO & Lady Hussey Have Met In Person

Both are now asking for peace.

by Shahed Ezaydi
Originally Published: 
Camilla, Queen Consort attends a reception to raise awareness of violence against women and girls
WPA Pool/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the Queen Consort Camilla hosted a Violence Against Women and Girls reception at Buckingham Palace, where a number of people, organisations, and charities were invited to discuss the work being done to combat this form of violence. One such individual in attendance was Ngozi Fulani, the CEO of the domestic abuse charity, Sistah Space, which supports women of African and Caribbean heritage. Fulani has since opened up about a “violating” encounter she experienced during the event, and Buckingham Palace announced that the individual involved has resigned over “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments.”

On Dec. 16, Buckingham Palace issued a new statement detailing a meeting that took place between Fulani and Lady Hussey, where she “offered her sincere apologies for the comments that were made and the distress they caused to Ms Fulani.” The statement also said that Fulani accepted Lady Hussey’s apology and both parties have asked to be “left in peace to rebuild their lives in the wake of an immensely distressing period for them both.”

“The Royal Households will continue their focus on inclusion and diversity, with an enhanced programme of work which will extend knowledge and training programmes, examining what can be learnt from Sistah Space, and ensuring these reach all members of their communities.”

Fulani took to Twitter on Nov. 30 to highlight the racially offensive questions and comments she claims she was subjected to from an aide at the reception, sharing a transcript of the alleged conversation. In the social media post, Fulani said the royal aide moved her dreadlocked hair out of the way of her name badge, before asking questions about where she and “her people” were from. After the continued questioning of where Fulani was “really” from, the aide then reportedly said, “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?”

Of the exchange, Fulani told The Independent, “It was such a struggle to stay in a space that you were violated in. Yesterday made me realise an ugly truth which I am still trying to process.” Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, was one of two witnesses to the comments made and tweeted: “I was right there. I witnessed this firsthand. We were at an event that was supposed to celebrate our work. For people like ... people like us will never really belong here.”

A statement from Buckingham Palace read: “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. 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.”

Although Fulani initially posted the initials of the aide who questioned her, she has since said that she didn’t intend for the woman’s identity to be made public. Buckingham Palace did not identify the individual by name in its statement, and has yet to respond to Bustle’s request for comment. Although Ngozi — in interviews — has since identified the aide to be Lady Susan Hussey, Prince William’s godmother.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4, Fulani also called out the claim that the comments made were down to Lady Hussey’s age. “I've heard so many suggestions it's about her age and stuff like that and I think that's a kind of a disrespect about ageism. Are we saying that because of your age you can't be racist or you can't be inappropriate?”

A Kensington Palace spokesperson, a member of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s press team, commented on the incident. “Racism has no place in our society,” the staffer told reporters, confirming they had spoken to Prince William about the matter. “The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.”

Since calling out her experience at Buckingham Palace, Fulani confirmed on Sistah Space’s Instagram page that the charity has had to “cease many of our operations.” The statement read: “Thank you for the continued support and messages. Unfortunately recent events meant that we were forced to temporarily cease many of our operations to ensure the safety of our service users and our team. We are overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement and look forward to fully reinstating our services as soon as safely possible.”

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