Buckingham Palace has been told to start applying its own words to actions when it comes to victims of racism, as the fallout from the remarks made to a Black charity campaigner continues.
Lady Susan Hussey, the Prince of Wales’ godmother, resigned from the household and apologised after making “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” to Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space, at the Queen Consort’s reception on violence against women on Tuesday.
Fulani said Lady Susan challenged her when she said her charity was based in Hackney, east London, saying: “No, what part of Africa are YOU from?”
Buckingham Palace apologised and invited Fulani to “discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes”.
But Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, who was next to Fulani and witnessed the exchange, hit out at Camilla after she gave a speech at the reception that said victims should be believed – in light of racism claims made by Meghan Markle last year.
Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight, Reid said: “What’s interesting is the Queen Consort gave a very powerful speech at the event we were at.
Watch: Ngozi Fulani describes racial discrimination at Buckingham Palace
“She spoke of one of the most important things when you’re working with survivors of violence or domestic abuse is believing them, responding when they come forward and report.
“That principle should apply here too. Don’t minimise, don’t deflect, believe people who come forward, embrace and support them.
“That is much bigger than just saying an individual has been moved out of the way and this problem has been done and dusted.”
Reid said that the incident validated Meghan’s claims that an unnamed member of the Royal Family made racist comments about her unborn son, Archie.
Meghan said during her Oprah Winfrey interview that a royal – not the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh – had expressed concerns to husband Harry about how dark Archie’s skin tone might be.
At the time, the Queen issued a statement saying that the issues raised would be dealt with privately as a family, but that “some recollections may vary”.
But Reid said Tuesday’s incident showed that racism in the palace was “institutional” and that it’s response was an attempt to “frame it like some isolated experience”.
“It reminds me of that bad apple approach of dealing with issues like this," she added.
She added: “Meghan herself said that her experiences in the royal household brought her to the brink of suicide.
“We were at this gathering for one afternoon, we spent a couple of hours there, it really left its mark on me, it really left its mark on Ngozi.
“Imagine having to deal with that day in day out, week in week out, month in month out from people who are supposed to be your in-laws, your relatives.
“That’s why I say I think there are clues here, there’s a pattern, that it’s institutional.”
Peter Hunt, LBC’s royal correspondent, said that Lady Susan was sacked “in the hope that we would see this as the act of an individual, not something deeper”.
He added: “Charles and William’s problem is that the focus is already shifting from the actions of one woman to broader questions about whether Buckingham Palace is institutionally racist.”
Recalling the incident, Fulani said she was distressed at not being able to report it, saying she felt she could not tell Camilla.
“There was nobody to report it to. I couldn't report it to the Queen Consort, plus it was such a shock to me and the other 2 women, that we were stunned to temporary silence,” she tweeted.
“I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled and engaged briefly with who spoke to me until I could leave.”
“This is bigger than one individual. It’s institutional racism,” she later told The Independent.
She said the incident showed “nothing has changed”, adding: “There are so many things to consider before you can even react to the pain of racism. Can you imagine? I’m just processing the incident.”
She called on the royal household to implement cultural competency and anti-racism training, which Sistah Space delivers.
Lady Susan, 83, who was invited to and on duty at the reception, has stepped down from her honorary role as one of three ladies of the household, to which she was newly appointed to help the King at formal occasions.
Buckingham Palace is understood to have reached out to Fulani through one of the organisations with which she is aligned.