Lady Susan Hussey and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent in 2013 (photo: Getty)
1 December 2022
On the Lady Susan Hussey affair – is anyone else more horrified by the Palace’s behaviour than Lady Hussey’s?
Yes, it seems Lady Hussey was a tad blunt in her interaction with charity boss Ngozi Fulani. At a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, she reportedly asked Ms Fulani where she is ‘really from’, repeatedly, even after Ms Fulani explained that she’s a Brit, like her. Oh dear.
The royals come off as far nastier than Lady Hussey in this strange scandal
But for the Palace to banish Lady Hussey almost instantly, despite the fact that she devoted her entire adult life to the institution, is far more callous. It’s cruel, in fact. Lady Hussey might have been clumsy in her chat with Ms Fulani, but give me clumsiness over cruelty any day.
It all springs from a charity event to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. Queen Camilla invited charity workers and survivors to the Palace as part of the UN’s 16 days of activism on gender-based violence. But the whole thing has been overshadowed by the Hussey / Fulani run-in.
Ms Fulani runs Sistah Space, a charity that works with women of African and Caribbean heritage who have been affected by domestic violence. She says Lady Hussey moved her hair aside so that she could see her badge and then continually asked her where she’s from. ‘Lady! I am a British national’, Fulani replied.
A media storm erupted after Fulani tweeted about what happened and that was it – Hussey was out. She ‘quit’, says the BBC, though it seems pretty clear she did so at the Palace’s behest. Her comments were ‘unacceptable and deeply regrettable’, a Palace spokesperson said. A spokesperson for Prince William said ‘it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.’
So that’s what you get after 62 years of service? Unceremonious dismissal at the first whiff of a misstep? No benefit of the doubt. No forgiveness. Just pack your bags and get out. The royals come off as far nastier than Lady Hussey in this strange scandal.
Lady Hussey has been working for the royal household since 1960. She was Queen Elizabeth II’s Lady in Waiting for decades. She was such a key figure that she is godmother to Prince William and she accompanied the late Queen to the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.
And yet decades of service and friendship apparently count for nought when media outrage is brewing. The wolves were licking their lips and so Lady Hussey was thrown to them. Imagine being treated like that by the royals after waiting on them hand and foot for six decades.
William’s intervention felt the most disturbing. He seems to have accepted right away that Lady Hussey’s behaviour was racist. ‘Racism has no place in our society’, his spokesperson said. Mate, that’s no way to treat your godmother, the one-time confidant to your gran.
If an elderly person who’s a central part of my life committed a social faux pas with a woman of colour I wouldn’t be bellowing about her ‘racism’. I’d talk to her, explain why people are going nuts, see if she’s okay. Is that no longer what we do with 83-year-old women who misspeak? Instead we just brand them social deviants and get rid? Blimey.
How can we be sure Lady Hussey was being racist? I’m not convinced at all that she was. She is 83 years old and posh – of course she’s not going to be au fait with the ever-changing rules of correct-speak. One of those rules is that asking someone where they’re from is a ‘racial microaggression’. How is Lady Hussey to know this? I doubt she reads gal-dem.
Also, is it racist, really, to enquire about someone’s cultural heritage? Some people are just curious. My very non-British name means I often get asked where I’m from. ‘What part of Ireland are you from?’, people say. I don’t defensively bark, ‘I was born in London, you racist!’ I just tell them.
We live in such confusing times. On the one hand we’re told to respect people’s cultural identities. To bow down to the view of Britain as a multicultural melting pot of folk from all kinds of backgrounds. But on the other we’re chastised if we ask people about their backgrounds. Perhaps Lady Hussey was actually trying to show interest in Ms Fulani’s heritage.
To Ms Fulani’s credit, she says she doesn’t want Lady Hussey to be ‘vilified’. Sadly, that’s already happening. And the royal family contributed to the vilification by dispensing with Lady Hussey so swiftly, so unforgivingly.
We all know Charles and William want to modernise The Firm. But if they do so by embracing such modern cruelties as cancel culture, they’ll regret it. Most people don’t like cancel culture. They especially don’t like the demonisation of elderly women for innocent mistakes. The real moral error here is not Lady Hussey’s – it’s the House of Windsor’s.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
comment by Nelle- The lady could have been a tad short but the other could have answered the question because she may have been born in England but her parents came from somewhere else-why not say that is she ashamed of her roots because after all she does not look English- just a racist smear that comes from the Left to initiate a witch hunt- they are always at it and the targets are white or Christian The Queen would be most upset with Lady Hussey’s treatment -I suppose the Royals though are quick to comment because of the slur thrown at them by the Sussexes