Politics

Rishi Sunak says ‘racism must be confronted’ after Buckingham Palace row

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said whenever we see racism “we must confront it” following the race row engulfing Buckingham Palace.

A black domestic abuse campaigner from London said she was repeatedly asked where she “really came from” by Prince William‘s godmother during a reception at the palace this week.

Although he refused to comment directly on the incident or anything to do with the monarchy, Mr Sunak said he has experienced racism but does not think what he experienced as a child would happen today – however, there is still work to be done.

“Our country’s made incredible progress in tackling racism,” he said.

“But the job is never done. And that’s why whenever we see it, we must confront it.

“And it’s right that we continually learn the lessons and move to a better future.”

Lady Susan Hussey, who was the Queen’s lady-in-waiting for more than 60 years, resigned from her role in the royal household and apologised over the incident during an event held on Tuesday by the Queen Consort.

More on Prince William

Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of charity Sistah Space, said Lady Hussey moved her hair to see her name badge and asked her “what part of Africa” she was from after she told her several times she was British.

The charity boss earlier today told Sky News she felt abused, verbally attacked and “trapped” when Lady Hussey kept asking her where she was “really from”.

Ms Fulani described the exchange with Lady Hussey, who was made a lady of the household after the Queen’s death, as a “violation” and said it was abuse when she moved her hair.

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‘Institutional racism’ at palace

“I was not giving the answer that she wanted me to give. And so we could not move on,” Ms Fulani told Sky News.

“And it was when she said ‘I knew you’d get there in the end’ – that proved to me, you were determined to prove that I had no right to British citizenship.

“Now, that reminds me of the Windrush conversation, where 50 or 60 years on people who were born here, worked here or you know, have given so much, can just be thrown out.

“Now, abuse doesn’t have to be physical. But if you move my hair without permission, to me, that’s abuse.

Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey. Pics: PA/David Fisher/Shutterstock
Image:
Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey. Pics: PA/David Fisher/Shutterstock

“When you verbally attack, because that to me is what it is – you are determined that the answer that I gave you is not one you want to hear, you do not recognise me as British.

“And until I acknowledge that I’m not, you’re not going to stop. What do I do? What do I do at that point? So I become silent. And I hoped she would go away and she eventually did.”

Read more:
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Who is Lady Susan Hussey?

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Why Will and Kate’s US trip matters

Prince William, who is on a three-day US visit with his wife Kate, is understood to agree it was right for Lady Hussey to step down from her honorary role as Lady of the Household with immediate effect.

A Kensington Palace spokesman told reporters in the US before the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Boston trip – which has been overshadowed by the palace controversy – that Lady Hussey’s comments were “unacceptable” and “racism has no place in our society”.

Later, during an NBA game William and Kate attended, the royal couple were booed by some members of the crowd, and at an Earthshot Prize event, they heard a speech on race equality by a black reverend.

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