November 29th was the date of Queen Camilla’s Buckingham Palace reception for charities and activists involved in gender violence work. That was when Susan Hussey, an 83-year-old aristocrat, began her racist interrogation of Ngozi Fulani. In the two-and-a-half weeks following Fulani’s reporting of the Hussey incident, she’s faced a torrent of racist abuse, to the point where she had to shut down (temporarily) Sistah Space, and she and Sistah Space are being investigated by the British Charity Commission after some random person claimed that Sistah Space misused the paltry grants they were given. For two-and-a-half weeks, Buckingham Palace stayed silent as Fulani was abused, and I would even argue that the royal establishment lined up to protect that racist a–hole Susan Hussey.
The palace’s silence was contemptible and repugnant. So… on Friday, the palace finally did something. The palace invited Fulani to come back… and they sat her down with Susan Hussey, so Hussey could make a personal apology. Note that there is no video, probably because they could only sit through one photo without Hussey hissing “but where are you really from???” The Palace also released this huffy statement:
A meeting took place this morning, 16th December, at Buckingham Palace between Ms Ngozi Fulani, founder of Sistah Space, and Lady Susan Hussey to address the incident that took place at a Palace reception last month.
At this meeting, filled with warmth and understanding, Lady Susan offered her sincere apologies for the comments that were made and the distress they caused to Ms Fulani. Lady Susan has pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the issues in this area.
Ms Fulani, who has unfairly received the most appalling torrent of abuse on social media and elsewhere, has accepted this apology and appreciates that no malice was intended.
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.
Both Ms Fulani and Lady Susan ask now that they be left in peace to rebuild their lives in the wake of an immensely distressing period for them both. They hope that their example shows a path to resolution can be found with kindness, co-operation and the condemnation of discrimination wherever it takes root.
It is the wish of both parties that, at the end of the UN’s 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, attention can now return to the important work of Sistah Space in supporting women affected by domestic abuse.
Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort and other members of the Royal Family have been kept fully informed and are pleased that both parties have reached this welcome outcome.
A pure PR question: is this the way it should have been handled, and should it have happened sooner? If I was working for BP, I would have organized a stunt like this just hours after Fulani’s reporting of the incident on November 30. Fulani should have been invited back to the palace by the end of that week. So, no, they don’t get a f–king cookie for organizing this over two weeks after the first incident of racist abuse. As for the sit-down between Fulani and Hussey… Camilla should have been there, right? Camilla was the one who organized the initial reception on November 29. Hussey worked for both Camilla and Charles. There should have been much more (seen) involvement by Camilla. From a PR perspective, it would have been such an easy win for Camilla too, but I guess no one working for that ancient boozehound has the good sense god gave a goose.
Anyway, I genuinely hope that people stop attacking Fulani for being victimized by these racists. I’ve been called a “race baiter” for merely covering the story, I can only imagine the racist invectives hurled at Ngozi Fulani.
Photos courtesy of Buckingham Palace, Cover Images, Avalon Red, Sistah Space, screencaps.