Royal officials 'caught off guard by Ngozi Fulani reigniting race row'

Royal officials are caught off guard by Ngozi Fulani reigniting race row as they believed the matter was dealt with after charity boss accepted ‘sincere apology’ from Lady Susan Hussey

  • Ms Fulani reignited the row by claiming royals hadn’t apologised to her properly
  • Today Ms Fulani hit out at the Palace on ITV’s Good Morning Britain

Buckingham Palace was plunged back into a race row today catching royal officials off guard after a black charity campaigner demanded to know why it was ‘so hard to say sorry’.

Ngozi Fulani reignited the damaging incident by claiming the royals had never apologised to her properly after she was offended by courtier Lady Susan Hussey repeatedly asking her ‘where are you really from?’.

Ms Fulani went on television and announced she was stepping aside as boss of her charity Sistah Space – blaming the palace for not protecting her from ‘threats’.

Her dramatic intervention caught royal officials by surprise because they believed the matter had been dealt with after she accepted a personal ‘sincere apology’ from Lady Susan following last November’s incident at a palace reception.

But today Ms Fulani hit out during an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, claiming that while the Queen’s long-serving lady-in-waiting had said sorry, the palace had only done so after it was made aware of her intention to go on GMB.

Lady Susan Hussey (pictured) has returned to performing official duties for Princess Anne

She told the programme: ‘I don’t see what is so hard to say ‘I’m sorry’. You [the palace] sent me the invitation [to the palace event], so you know how to find me. You know how to say sorry. If you’re sorry, then say sorry.’

Presenter Richard Madeley read out a ‘new’ statement from the palace on air, which said: ‘For the avoidance of any doubt, we are sorry for the incident that took place and apologise for the distress and difficulty it caused to Ms Fulani.’

Ms Fulani seemed to suggest it was the first time there had been an apology from the palace and questioned why it was given to the media rather than to her.

She said: ‘Who are they apologising to? If you’re sorry, tell me you’re sorry.’

The Palace insiders insisted they had not made a new statement, but had supplied a response to the ITV programme to serve as a ‘right of reply’ to Ms Fulani’s assertions.

It was claimed that apologies on behalf of the palace had been shared with Ms Fulani and her representatives last year. 

Ms Fulani also announced on GMB today she was temporarily stepping down as boss of Sistah Space, which helps woman affected by abuse, citing abuse by trolls and saying ‘violence’ had been directed towards her since the incident. 

She claimed Buckingham Palace had not done enough to protect her from threats.

It is understood palace staff are adamant she was offered assistance with security concerns and with handling some of the abuse she had received.

Ms Fulani appeared on Good Morning Britain today where she said she does not regret speaking out about what happened 

Ngozi Fulani said she felt she suffered ‘a form of abuse’ during her encounter with Lady Susan, who repeatedly asked her where she was ‘really from’, despite her making clear she was British

According to the Charity Commission website yesterday, Sistah Space is 36 days overdue filing its accounts. 

Ms Fulani told GMB Sistah Space has suffered as a direct result of the row with Lady Susan – who was Queen Elizabeth II’s most senior lady-in-waiting – and claims ‘violence’ has been directed towards her following the incident. 

‘The service users and the community can’t access us properly,’ she said. ‘This whole thing has cost us a fortune because we had to pay our own PR to stop the press from coming up, it was horrible.’

What is Sistah Space? 

Sistah Space is a not-for-profit charity which supports women and girls of African heritage who are victims of domestic violence.

The charity was founded in 2015 in direct response to the tragic murder of Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old daughter by Valerie’s ex-partner.

In a statement, Sistah Space said: ‘It’s been an extremely challenging but rewarding journey of love and care.

‘Starting as a small idea in 2015 and continuing seven years later with the advocacy, training and support we offer today.

But she said she does not regret speaking out about what happened as she is ‘about discussing and making aware violence against women and girls, and I’ll go anywhere at any time to fight that cause.’ 

Ms Fulani had accompanied a friend to a Buckingham Palace reception, hosted by the Queen Consort, to highlight violence against women and girls. 

She said Lady Susan repeatedly asked her where she was ‘really from’, despite her making clear she was British, during the event. 

Ms Fulani says she was left feeling ‘violated’ after Prince William’s godmother ‘interrogated’ her. 

The former lady-in-waiting, who served the late Queen for six decades and was retained by the King in an honorary role, stepped down ‘with immediate effect’ in November amid a furious outcry after Ms Fulani tweeted about her experience at the event. 

Ms Fulani previously described her Buckingham Palace ordeal as a ‘form of abuse’.

She also said Lady Susan moved her dreadlocks during the exchange so she could read her name badge.

‘That’s a no-no,’ Miss Fulani said. ‘I wouldn’t put my hands in someone’s hair, and culturally it’s not appropriate.’

She hit out at the Palace and announced she has temporarily stepped down as CEO of Sistah Space 

Ms Fulani also dismissed suggestions Lady Hussey’s comments were down to her age.

Read more: Charles and Camilla’s delight as Lady Susan Hussey meets Ngozi Fulani

She previously told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘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.’

After Ms Fulani made a string of media appearances about the incident, she met with Lady Susan at Buckingham Palace in mid-December to discuss the issue. 

The Palace said following the meeting: ‘At this meeting, filled with warmth and understanding, Lady Susan offered her sincere apologies for the comments that were made and the distress they caused to Ms Fulani.

‘Lady Susan has pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the issues in this area.

Buckingham Palace said following the meeting that Lady Susan ‘has pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more’

‘Ms Fulani, who has unfairly received the most appalling torrent of abuse on social media and elsewhere, has accepted this apology and appreciates that no malice was intended. 

‘Both Ms Fulani and Lady Susan ask now that they be left in peace to rebuild their lives in the wake of an immensely distressing period for them both.

‘They hope that their example shows a path to resolution can be found with kindness, co-operation and the condemnation of discrimination wherever it takes root.

‘It is the wish of both parties that, at the end of the UN’s 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, attention can now return to the important work of Sistah Space in supporting women affected by domestic abuse.

‘Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort and other members of the Royal Family have been kept fully informed and are pleased that both parties have reached this welcome outcome.’

MailOnline has contacted Buckingham Palace and Sistah Space for comment. 

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