The late Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey has apologised and resigned after she repeatedly asked a Black British charity boss where she was “really” from.
Ngozi Fulani, a charity founder, was questioned about her background at the charity event at Buckingham palace on Tuesday.
Ms Fulani, said she was “totally stunned” by Prince William’s godmother’s comments.
Ms Fulani, in an interview with the Independent website, said the issue was “bigger than one individual. It’s institutional racism”.
“I was in shock after it happened and anybody who knows me knows I don’t take this kind of nonsense,” she said.
“But I had to consider so many things. As a black person, I found myself in this place where I wanted to say something but what happened would automatically be seen as my fault, it would bring [my charity] Sistah Space down.
“It would be ‘oh, she has a chip on their shoulder’.”
Ms Fulani said she did not want to see Lady Hussey “vilified”.
An eyewitness to the conversation, Mandu Reid, told BBC News that Lady Hussey’s questions had been “offensive, racist and unwelcoming”.
The leader of the Women’s Equality Party said she had felt a “sense of incredulity” about the exchange in which Ms Fulani was interrogated about where she was from, even though she had already explained she was born and lived in the UK.
The palace described the remarks as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.
Here is part of the conversation, as recounted by Ms Fulani:
Lady SH: Where are you from?
Me: Sistah Space.
SH: No, where do you come from?
Me: We’re based in Hackney.
SH: No, what part of Africa are you from?
Me: I don’t know, they didn’t leave any records.
SH: Well, you must know where you’re from, I spent time in France. Where are you from?
Me: Here, the UK.
SH: No, but what nationality are you?
Me: I am born here and am British.
SH: No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?
Me: ‘My people’, lady, what is this?
SH: 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?
Me: Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the 50s when…
SH: Oh, I knew we’d get there in the end, you’re Caribbean!
Me: No lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality.
SH: Oh so you’re from…