United Kingdom

Top lawyer says Lady Susan Hussey also asked him about his ‘heritage’ amid Ngozi Fulani race row

One of the UK’s leading lawyers today claimed that Lady Susan Hussey interrogated him about his heritage at the same function where she asked a black British domestic violence campaigner: ‘Where in Africa are you from?’.

Nazir Afzal, 60,  Chancellor of the University of Manchester and ex-chief prosecutor of the CPS under Sir Keir Starmer, reacted to the row by declaring: ‘Racism is never far away’.

Ngozi Fulani has made headlines around the world after Buckingham Palace was engulfed in a toxic race row that saw the late Queen’s chief lady-in-waiting – and also Prince William’s godmother – resign after being accused of racially insulting her and refusing to believe she was British.

The timing is less than ideal for the Royal Family as they brace for Harry and Meghan’s highly-anticipated bombshell Netflix documentary, which is scheduled for release on December 8 – and which today dropped its first teaser trailer featuring the Duchess of Sussex. 

Mr Afzal tweeted: ‘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!’.

He told MailOnline today: ‘I was at the Palace, having been invited by the Welsh Government, which is what my name badge said. Nevertheless, Lady Hussey still asked me where I was from.’

Nazir Afzal, 60, Chancellor of the University of Manchester and ex-chief prosecutor of the CPS under Sir Keir Starmer, reacted to the row by declaring: ‘Racism is never far away’ (Pictured: Mr Afzal at the Palace with Yasmin Khan, national adviser to the Welsh government on gender abuse)

Camilla, the Queen Consort, close to Ngozi Fulani (circled in red) with Nazir Afzal in the background (also circled)

Camilla, the Queen Consort, close to Ngozi Fulani (circled in red) with Nazir Afzal in the background (also circled)

He said he was one of ‘only a handful of men’ at the gathering, whose guests included Carrie Johnson, Cherie Blair, Baroness Scotland, Spice Girl Mel B, Fiona Bruce and ‘200 strong women.’

Ngozi Fulani today revealed that the King, Queen Consort or Prince William have not contacted her to apologise. But she said she would be ‘happy’ to take up the Royal Family‘s invitation to meet to discuss what happened when Lady Susan Hussey refused to believe she was British and ‘about 7 or 8 times’ had asked her: ‘Where are you really from?’.

Describing the ‘interrogation’, as she described it, she said: ‘I was stood next to two other women – black women – and she (Lady Susan) just made a beeline for me, and she took my locks and moved it out of the way so that she could see my name badge. That’s a no-no. I wouldn’t put my hands in someone’s hair, and culturally it’s not appropriate’. 

The incident on Tuesday, and Lady Hussey’s swift departure from the royal household, has already overshadowed the Prince and Princess of Wales‘ three-day visit to the US – viewed as their most important ever.

Ngozi Fulani said her interaction with the late Queen’s lady in waiting was ‘like an interrogation’ and that she felt she was being forced to ‘denounce my British citizenship’.

The race row is a major blow to William and Kate's tour of the US, pictured watching the Boston Celtics last night

The race row is a major blow to William and Kate’s tour of the US, pictured watching the Boston Celtics last night

Nazir Afzal, 60, Chancellor of the University of Manchester and ex-chief prosecutor of the CPS under Sir Keir Starmer, reacted to the row by declaring: 'Racism is never far away'. He revealed he spoke to Lady Hussey

Nazir Afzal, 60, Chancellor of the University of Manchester and ex-chief prosecutor of the CPS under Sir Keir Starmer, reacted to the row by declaring: ‘Racism is never far away’. He revealed he spoke to Lady Hussey

Ms Folani, chief executive of charity Sistah Space, denied Buckingham Palace’s claims they had spoken to her yesterday. She told Good Morning Britain: ‘I don’t know where that has come from. Nobody has reached out to me or the charity. I’m telling you categorically – we have not heard from the palace’.

William condemned his godmother and racism in a statement via his spokesman but has not spoken publicly since landing in Boston yesterday and is facing increasing pressure to tackle it head on.

Nazir Afzal sais he was asked by Lady Hussey where he was from and said: 'Manchester - currently'

Nazir Afzal sais he was asked by Lady Hussey where he was from and said: ‘Manchester – currently’ 

As supporters of Lady Hussey accused Buckingham Palace of throwing her ‘under the bus’ to rescue the Wales’ tour, even Ms Folani said she ‘wished’ she her abuser had kept her job but forced to learn about what she had done wrong instead.

She said: ‘It’s tragic for me that it has ended that way. I would have preferred that she had been spoken to or reeducated.’ 

Journalist and diversity advocate Ateh Jewel agreed with Ms Folani today, telling BBC News that she ‘does not believe in cancel culture.’ 

However she branded Lady Hussey’s alleged comments as ‘offensive and painful.’ 

She said: ‘In this instance, it wasn’t about being connected or talking about ancestry.com and each others’ heritage, it was about: ”What is your place?”, it’s a bit like saying ”I’m a thoroughbred, you’re a bit of a mutt and I want to sniff out what you are, are you a bit pitbull are you a bit labrador?”, it has that kind of condescending feel when you are asked that, and it’s offensive and it’s painful.

‘If you are in the public eye, your job is to literally make people feel welcome in the Palace… and you have a lady saying ”what do you want from me?” and you persist and say ”finally we’ve gotten there” – it doesn’t feel like that is a welcoming, opening conversation to start a connection.

‘To me that’s like ”know your place”, in my opinion, you know, ”you need to give me the information so I can put you in whatever perceived ranking I need to put you in, and how dare you say that you are British and not something else, because you clearly aren’t, you’re other.”’

She added: ‘And it’s this feeling of always being ”othered” that I find really offensive and a form of 21st century racism.

‘People have been saying in the 1950s the KKK would leave a burning cross in my garden, but this is a toxic gas, it is something that hurts and harms – it is not as dramatic as being lynched or getting a burning cross – but it is harmful and it is painful and what I call ”death by a thousand cuts”, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had that question being posed to them, and the intention is often with malice.’

On the Palace’s apology and Lady Hussey leaving her post, she said: ‘I do not believe in cancel culture, I believe in compassion, growth and having conversations… this is about right and wrong…. this is about humanity, and I think having more conversations where more people understand what this feels like and what the intention is, that’s how we change culture.’

It comes as BBC royal reporter Jonny Dymond said that Lady Hussey had been ‘collateral damage’ as the royals face claims of institutional racism and damaging allegations that a senior royal made comments about the colour of Archie’s skin.

Ngozi Fulani (pictured centre at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday) was asked by Lady Hussey: 'What part of Africa are you from?'

Ngozi Fulani claims royal aide, believed to be Lady Susan Hussey, asked her: 'What part of Africa are you from?'

Ngozi Fulani (pictured centre at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday) was asked by Lady Hussey: ‘What part of Africa are you from?’

Professor Arianne Chernock, a historian from Boston University, said William and Kate cannot remain silent any longer.

She said: ‘It would not be in their interests to ignore this issue. They have tried in the past to make very brief statements and then move on.

‘I think they need to make some sort of statement as the Prince and Princess of Wales – not their handlers’.

Ms Fulani was clear that her treatment by the late Queen’s lady in waiting was down to racism, not her age.

Lady Susan Hussey, the Prince of Wales’s 83-year-old godmother, resigned from the household and apologised after asking Ms Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space, where she ‘really came from’ at a royal reception on Tuesday.

Ms Fulani told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Let us be clear what this is.

‘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. Are we saying that because of your age you can’t be racist or you can’t be inappropriate?

‘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.’

She added: ‘Although it’s not physical violence, it is an abuse.’

William, Kate and wife of Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, Emilia Fazzalari, pose for a picture courtside

William, Kate and wife of Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, Emilia Fazzalari, pose for a picture courtside

The royal couple also stopped to shake hands and hug Celtics supporters in the crowd

The royal couple also stopped to shake hands and hug Celtics supporters in the crowd

The Wales' also appeared on the jumbotron at TD Garden and waved to the crowd in the arena

The Wales’ also appeared on the jumbotron at TD Garden and waved to the crowd in the arena

Asked how the conversation at the royal reception unfolded, the domestic abuse campaigner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Like an interrogation.

‘I guess the only way I can explain it, she’s determined: ‘Where are you from? Where are your people from?”

Ms Fulani explained that she tried to give Lady Susan Hussey the benefit of the doubt when the 83-year-old started questioning her.

‘At that time, I’m thinking to myself, is it that she – because she keeps asking me the same question – could it be that she can’t hear me well? Because you have to consider so many things when you’re talking to someone who may be older than you…

‘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.’

Asked how she felt about Lady Susan Hussey’s resignation, the black charity boss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘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 Lady Susan’s apology instead of seeing her quit the household, Ms 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.’

The Prince of Wales had a nervous smile as he and Kate arrived in Boston with British Airways

The Prince of Wales had a nervous smile as he and Kate arrived in Boston with British Airways

William and Kate push the button at the Earthshot Prize opening ceremony last night

William and Kate push the button at the Earthshot Prize opening ceremony last night

Wills held an umbrella as they made their way to the stage, before addressing the crowd

Wills held an umbrella as they made their way to the stage, before addressing the crowd 

The Prince and Princess of Wales sat courtside to watch an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at the end of the first day of their visit to the US.

William and Kate’s three-day trip to Boston has been overshadowed by the growing race row engulfing the future King’s godmother which has left the monarchy accused of being institutionally racist.

Lady Susan Hussey has resigned from her role in the royal household and apologised after she repeatedly questioned Ngozi Fulani, a prominent black British-born domestic abuse charity boss, about where she ‘really came from’ during a Buckingham Palace reception.

The prince is understood to agree it was right for Lady Susan to step down from her honorary role as one of three Ladies of the Household, with a Kensington Palace spokesman telling reporters in the US ahead of the three-day trip to Boston: ‘Racism has no place in our society.’

However, Ms Fulani said that despite the ‘overt racism’ she believes she was subjected to, she did not wish for Lady Susan to resign over the incident.

Ms Fulani told The Guardian: ‘It’s tragic for me that it has ended that way. I would have preferred that she had been spoken to or reeducated.’

The timing is less than ideal for the Royal Family as they brace for Harry and Meghan’s highly-anticipated Netflix documentary, which is scheduled for release on December 8. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were reported to have tried to push it back to 2023 despite the streaming giant paying them a rumoured $100million (£88million)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were reported to have tried to push it back to 2023 despite the streaming giant paying them a rumoured $100million (£88million) for the fly-on-the-wall series 

Harry and Meghan had been working on the series as part of their rumoured $100 million (£88million) deal with the beleaguered streaming giant. But there has been toing and froing over when it will be released

Harry and Meghan had been working on the series as part of their rumoured $100 million (£88million) deal with the beleaguered streaming giant. But there has been toing and froing over when it will be released

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were reported to have tried to push it back to 2023 despite the streaming giant paying them a rumoured $100million (£88million) for the fly-on-the-wall series.

There have been mixed reports, with the royals reportedly ‘at odds’ with the production staff on their Netflix docuseries because the ‘panicked’ couple want to make ‘such extensive edits’ that the team believe the project could be ‘shelved indefinitely’,

However Page Six has now revealed the documentary, which sources said was once called ‘Chapters’, will air next Thursday.

At the start of the basketball game in Boston on Wednesday night the prince and princess of Wales were seen watching intently as the Celtics raced into an early lead and during the event sat alongside alongside Massachusetts Governor-Elect, Maura Healey, Celtics Legend Thomas ‘Satch’ Sanders, and the team’s two principal owners and their wives.

Kate and William stood for the national anthem The Star Spangled Banner but later the royal couple were subject to small pockets of boos around the arena when they were introduced by a stadium announcer and shown on the big screen.

The Boston Celtics’ name was inspired by the Original Celtics, a well-known basketball team that had been created by Irish immigrants in New York earlier in the 20th century, before folding in 1930.

Other fans in the crowd could be heard loudly cheering ‘USA, USA’ when the Prince and Princess appeared on the screens in the centre above the court.

A black reverend kicked lectured about racism as the Wales' watched

A black reverend kicked lectured about racism as the Wales’ watched

William and Kate listened as Reverend Hammond, said: 'On this day, I invite us all to consider the legacy of colonialism and racism'

William and Kate listened as Reverend Hammond, said: ‘On this day, I invite us all to consider the legacy of colonialism and racism’

William and Kate visiting Boston City Hall on Wednesday evening during the Earthshot Prize ceremony

William and Kate visiting Boston City Hall on Wednesday evening during the Earthshot Prize ceremony

After the second quarter with the game tied 47 all William and Kate watched as the Celtics honoured their long standing tradition of recognising a ‘Hero Among Us’, heralding individuals working to positively impact the community.

Ollie Perrault, a 15-year-old climate activist, now the founder and director of Youth Climate Action Now, met the royal pair after being cheered by the local crowd for her work as a leading member of the Youth Climate Leadership Program since she was 11.

During Thursday, William and Kate will visit Greentown Labs, a tech hub which has been nurturing climate pioneers for more than a decade.

Greentown is believed to be the largest climate technology start-up incubator in North America, having supported more than 500 companies, since founded in 2011, that have created more than 9,000 jobs and raised more than four billion dollars (£3.3b) in funding.

They will also tour Roca, a non-profit organisation focusing on young people at risk of becoming involved in urban violence.

The couple will meet with leaders of the organisation to learn about their intervention model and spend time with women in the young mothers’ programme, current members and alumni of the young men’s programme.

 Earlier a black reverend ambushed the Prince and Princess of Wales with a lecture about the ‘legacy of colonialism and racism’ – just hours after Buckingham Palace became embroiled in a furious race row when William’s godmother was accused of making racist remarks at an event hosted by Queen Consort Camilla.

Just minutes before William and Kate took to the stage at the Boston launch event of the Prince’s Earthshot Prize, Reverend Mariama White-Hammond – the city’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space – gave a strong speech in which she told the crowd to ‘consider the legacy of colonialism and racism’, particularly when it comes to their impact on climate change.

As the Prince and Princess Wales watched on from the wings, Reverend Hammond, who founded a youth organization focused on ‘teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement’, said: ‘On this day, I invite us all to consider the legacy of colonialism and racism.’

She continued: ‘The ways it has impacted people across the world and its connection, its deep connection to the degradation of land and our planet that we are all seeking to reverse. The stories lost, the species made extinct, but also the persistence of people in the face of oppression and the fundamental dignity of all of our relations.’

Although no mention was made about Lady Susan Hussey – former lady-in-waiting to the Queen and William’s own godmother – who was accused of making racist comments at a Buckingham Palace event on Tuesday night, few could fail to connect the controversy with Reverend White-Hammond’s remarks.

Having started her speech by ‘acknowledging the ancestral lands we stand on today’, the Reverend went on to express gratitude to William and Kate for choosing to host this year’s Earthshot Prize in Boston.

‘Now you all know, we are a city of many firsts. We are honored to be the first American city and the first city outside of the United Kingdom to host the Earthshot Prize,’ she continued.

Ms Fulani shared this transcript of the alleged incident but said the rest of the event was a 'blur'

Ms Fulani shared this transcript of the alleged incident but said the rest of the event was a ‘blur’

The domestic abuse charity founder tweeted about the incident this morning

The domestic abuse charity founder tweeted about the incident this morning

The Queen accompanied by her lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, in 2012

The Queen accompanied by her lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, in 2012

William and Kate are said to be determined not to be side-tracked from their mission to launch the prince’s Earthshot Prize awards in America and meet as many locals as possible. A spokesman described the trip as a ‘huge moment’ for them.

They were greeted by Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts. In a speech, William said: ‘Catherine and I are delighted to be back in the United States and are extremely grateful to Governor Baker and the First Lady of Massachusetts for their warm welcome into Boston.

‘On this, our first overseas visit since the death of my grandmother, I would like to thank the people of Massachusetts and particularly of Boston for their many tributes paid to the late Queen. She remembered her 1976 bicentennial visit with great fondness.

‘My grandmother was one of life’s optimists. And so am I.

‘That is why last year we launched the Earthshot Prize with the ambition to create a truly global platform to inspire hope and urgent optimism as we look to save the future of our planet.’

The couple’s hugely anticipated arrival is attracting wall-to-wall coverage in America, and they were greeted at an event at City Hall by mayor Michelle Wu, 37.

The royal couple also met Miss Wu’s husband Connor Pewarski and their sons Blaise and Cass during a brief audience in the mayor’s office last night.

The event was the first chance the public had to see William and Kate before they launch a special countdown to the Earthshot awards ceremony. This week the prince will also visit the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The couple will learn about the work that local organisations are doing to mitigate the risk to Boston from rising sea levels and will tour Greentown Labs, in the nearby town of Somerville, to get an insight into the development of innovative green technologies.

But tomorrow’s gala awards ceremony is undoubtedly the focus of their visit and William has harnessed their royal star power to reel in a host of celebrity backers.

Singers Billie Eilish, Annie Lennox and actor Rami Malik will lead a stellar line-up for the Earthshot awards as he and his wife roll out the red carpet stateside this week for what one insider described as the prince’s ‘Super Bowl’ moment. William is passionate about the awards he devised to highlight individuals and organisations developing practical solutions to the global environmental crisis. Five winners will each be given £1 million in prizemoney, so the stakes are high.

Sources say William sees Earthshot as part of his increasing ‘global leadership’ role. ‘It’s a big moment for him on the world stage,’ one added.

Other names performing at the MGM Music Hall in Boston include Ellie Goulding and Chloe x Halle.

Among the 15 finalists vying for the £1million awarded to each of the five category winners are a cleaner-burning stove initiative in Kenya and a bubble barrier made in the Netherlands to prevent plastics entering the oceans. There are also finalists from the UK for the first time, with two British-based entries being selected. Notpla Hard Material – a start-up run by Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez in London – makes packaging from seaweed and plants as an alternative to single-use plastic.

The other UK finalist – Low Carbon Materials, based in County Durham – uses unrecyclable plastic waste to make concrete blocks carbon-zero.

Sir David Attenborough will voice the opening of the show, which is scheduled to be broadcast on the BBC on Sunday at 5.30pm.


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