Lady Hussey’s racist remarks will take an already bruised palace two steps back

One can only imagine how many Commonwealth countries must view what allegedly passes for small talk at a reception

The resignation of Lady Susan Hussey after making “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” to a black female guest at a Buckingham Palace reception will undoubtedly cast a gloomy shadow over the beginning of the king’s reign.

No matter that Lady Hussey, 83, who served six long loyal decades as lady-in-waiting to the late Queen – and who was nicknamed “No 1 Head Girl” by royal staff – is not a key aide in the king’s private office. She is a close friend of Charles, who made her a godmother to his eldest son, William.

Her new job title, announced only last week, was as one of three Ladies-of-the-Household, there to assist at palace functions and the like. Nevertheless, it is a public-facing, honorary role.

For a royal family still bruised by allegations aired on TV by the Duchess of Sussex regarding matters of race, which have been vehemently denied, any whiff of controversy on the subject will be greeted with abject horror.

More especially, this is already an acutely sensitive time for the House of Windsor. The long-awaited Netflix documentary on Harry and Meghan is, reportedly, finally due to air next week.

If the couple’s interview with US TV host Oprah Winfrey – in which they claimed an unnamed member of the royal family speculated on the skin tone of their first-born, Archie – is any yardstick, Buckingham Palace is right to be braced. And they remain so for the publication of Harry’s candid memoir, Spare, in the new year.

There will be huge disappointment at this latest controversy. The reception at which Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of the charity Sistah Space, was subjected to interrogation over where she was “really from” was a key event in the new Queen Consort’s diary. It had been billed as a “new high-water mark” in Camilla’s violence against women and girls (VAWG) work, and a platform from which she would deliver her first major speech in her new position.

Coverage of the event has been overtaken by headlines on the fallout from Hussey’s comments and her resignation.

The incident also threatens to overshadow the first day of the Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Boston to promote William’s Earthshot environment prize, due to culminate in an award ceremony and a possible meeting with the US president, Joe Biden.

It is just two weeks since the king welcomed the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to Buckingham Palace with a state banquet during which he spoke of “acknowledging the wrongs” that shaped the pasts of the two nations.

South Africa is part of the Commonwealth, of which Charles is head. One can only imagine how many Commonwealth countries must view headlines such as that generated by what allegedly passes for small talk by a trusted aide at a palace reception.


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Queen escapes Harry and Meghan's ire in scathing Oprah interview
Prince Harry denied he had ‘blindsided’ his grandmother, saying he had too much respect for her

Caroline Davies

08, Mar, 2021 @1:54 PM

Article image
Meghan's Oprah trailer signals no-holds-barred take on 'the firm'
Analysis: unclear if Meghan’s ire is directed at particular royals but teaser is sign ‘never complain, never explain’ era is over

Caroline Davies

04, Mar, 2021 @2:30 PM

Article image
The monarchy: so what are they for?
When Harry and Meghan took on ‘the firm’ in front of 50 million
viewers, it put the spotlight on the future of the royal family. Will it change with the times or fade under a future Charles III?

Andrew Anthony

14, Mar, 2021 @7:45 AM

Article image
Buckingham Palace breaks silence on Meghan and Harry claims to Oprah
Queen says ‘issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning’ but adds they will be dealt with privately

Caroline Davies

10, Mar, 2021 @1:05 PM

Article image
Princes side by side as Queen taken from Palace to Westminster
William and Harry’s role echoes that of 25 years ago when they followed Diana’s coffin on foot to her funeral

Robert Booth

14, Sep, 2022 @3:25 PM

Article image
'Distasteful': BBC's King Charles III sparks anger even before it is aired
Drama depicting warring Windsors, a scheming Kate and Princess Diana’s ghost already has one Tory politician up in arms

Caroline Davies

01, May, 2017 @11:01 PM

Article image
Prince William: Queen shielded us from public grief after death of Diana
In BBC film, Prince Harry seems to confirm Charles broke the news, and William says he was thankful for ‘the privacy to mourn’

Caroline Davies

23, Aug, 2017 @10:14 AM

Article image
Princes William and Harry pay tribute to the Queen in US TV interview
Duke of Cambridge also speaks of his deep sadness that his mother was not there to witness his wedding

Caroline Davies

29, May, 2012 @6:25 PM

Article image
Harry angry at William's 'snobbish' advice about Meghan, book claims
Prince William said to have feared brother was ‘blindsided’ by lust in his haste to marry

Caroline Davies

26, Jul, 2020 @11:00 AM

Article image
Flip-flops and tartan rugs: royal family reveals 2018 gift list
Duchess of Sussex receives 90 soft toys while Queen acquires collection of horse statues

Caroline Davies

05, Apr, 2019 @4:11 PM