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HomeWorldCharity boss felt palace’s Lady Hussey tried to make her ‘denounce citizenship’

Charity boss felt palace’s Lady Hussey tried to make her ‘denounce citizenship’

A black British charity leader has said she felt she was being forced to denounce her citizenship when she was “interrogated” by the late queen’s lady-in-waiting about where she “really came from”.

Ngozi Fulani, who founded the domestic abuse charity Sistah Space, was questioned repeatedly about her background by the royal aide Susan Hussey at a Buckingham Palace reception.

Comparing the incident to the Windrush scandal, Fulani told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the encounter felt “like an interrogation” and “abuse”.

She also said that despite Buckingham Palace saying it had “reached out” to her and was inviting her to “discuss all elements of her experience”, she had not heard from royal officials.

Lady Hussey, 83, apologised and resigned from her honorary position as a lady of the royal household after the incident on Tuesday at a violence against women and girls reception hosted by Camilla, the Queen Consort.

When asked to describe the conversation, Fulani said: “Like an interrogation. I guess the only way I can explain it, she’s determined: ‘Where are you from? Where are your people from?’”

Fulani said that at first she wondered if Hussey had not been able to hear her answer when she continued to ask the same question. “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.”

She added: “This is like a Windrush thing to me. You can’t make me unwelcome in my own space.”

Fulani said it was ageist to suggest that the comments could be attributed to 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,” she said. “Are we saying that because of your age you can’t be racist or you can’t be inappropriate?”

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She added: “If you invite people to an event, as I said, against domestic abuse, and there are people there from different demographics, 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.”

Fulani later told ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB) programme that no one from the palace had approached her over the incident. “People keep saying the palace has reached out to me. Nobody has reached out to me,” she said.

Asked whether the palace had perhaps reached out via her charity, Sistah Space, Fulani said: “No. I don’t know where this has come from, but I’m telling you categorically, we have not heard from the palace.”

She said if she did receive an invitation from the Prince of Wales to attend the palace and discuss her experience, she would accept it, telling GMB: “See, what we’re about is positive results, so absolutely, I think a discussion should be held.

“We’re very happy to have that discussion, because we just want to bring it back to 16 days of activism. This is about violence against women and girls, and although I didn’t experience physical violence, what I feel I experienced was a form of abuse.”

Sources have indicated that the palace has tried to reach out through one of the organisations through which Fulani is aligned.

Fulani described Hussey’s questions as an abuse. “I have to really question how this can happen in a space that’s supposed to protect women against all kinds of violence,” she said. “And although it’s not physical violence, it is an abuse.”

A spokesperson for the Prince of Wales, who is Lady Hussey’s godson, said the comments were unacceptable and that “racism has no place in our society”. Buckingham Palace described the remarks as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.

Asked how she felt about Hussey’s resignation, Fulani said: “I want the focus to remain where it should be, which is on the women and girls who are affected by domestic abuse. Having said that, she’s influenced by Buckingham Palace, and it’s their decision and her decision to make, one that I had no part in.”

Asked if she would have preferred to accept Hussey’s apology instead of seeing her resign, Fulani said: “I would have preferred it did not happen. 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.”

Meanwhile, Nazir Afzal, the chancellor of the University of Manchester, has revealed he was questioned about his heritage by Hussey at the same event.

The former chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service said on Twitter: “I was at the Buckingham Palace reception at which Lady Hussey questioned the heritage of a brilliant DV expert Ngozi Fulani.

“She only asked me my heritage once & seemed to accept my answer – Manchester currently!

“Racism is never far away tho.”

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