Lady Susan Hussey served the queen for more than 60 years and had stayed on in an honorary role to support King Charles.
That all ended Wednesday after she made “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” to Ngozi Fulani, a British-born anti-domestic violence advocate, during a reception hosted by Queen Consort Camilla on Nov. 29.
Fulani, who was at the event representing the London charity Sistah Space, tweeted about her interaction with Lady Hussey, saying she was repeatedly questioned about “what part of Africa” she was from.
Fulani, who is the director of the organization, did not name Lady Hussey directly in the tweet, rather referring to her as “Lady SH.” She said she was approached within 10 minutes of arriving at the event and her hair was moved to see her name tag before enduring a line of persistent questioning about where she was from.
In a followup tweet, Fulani said she did not wish to reveal the full identity of the person involved.
Fulani said she was questioned multiple times about where she came “from,” and that her response was not accepted.
“No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?” Fulani said she was asked, claiming that a followup question was posed: “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?”
According to The Telegraph, Fulani said she was “stunned into temporary silence,” and found it “such a struggle to stay in the space that (she was) violated in.”
“I think it is essential to acknowledge that trauma has occurred and being invited and then insulted has caused much damage,” she said.
Buckingham Palace provided a statement to the BBC Wednesday, saying: “We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details.”
The palace said it had reached out to Fulani about the “regrettable comments” and was “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.
“All members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”
Sistah Space, which supports women of African and Caribbean heritage across the U.K. who have faced domestic and sexual abuse, was one of 300 invited guests present at Camilla’s first solo outing since becoming Queen Consort.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s spokesperson also addressed the racist exchange in front of reporters Wednesday at Buckingham Palace.
“This is a matter for Buckingham Palace but as the Prince of Wales’ spokesperson I appreciate you’re all here and understand you’ll want to ask about it,” the spokesperson told reporters. “So let me address it head-on. I was really disappointed to hear about the guest’s experience at Buckingham Palace last night. Obviously, I wasn’t there, but racism has no place in our society. The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.”
Lady Hussey, 83, holds the title of Baroness Hussey of North Bradley. She accompanied the queen at the funeral of Prince Phillip in 2021.
Wednesday’s controversy is just the latest in a long list of incidents surrounding race that stain the Royal Family. Earlier this year, Prince William and Middleton’s Caribbean tour was criticized as being tone-deaf in light of the damage done to island nations in the name of British colonialism.
Prince William also faced backlash after his comments earlier this year about the Russian war on Ukraine were perceived as racist.
And, last year, William went into damage control mode after his younger brother, Prince Harry, and Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, accused an unnamed member of the Royal Family of “concerns and conversations” about how dark their son Archie’s skin would be when he was born.
When asked by a reporter if the Royal Family was racist, William said: “We’re very much not a racist family.”