Senior member of Buckingham Palace household quits after racist comments to guest

A member of the Buckingham Palace household has resigned after “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments” were made at the Queen Consort’s reception, the Palace has said.

The announcement comes after a black advocate for survivors of domestic abuse had claimed she was repeatedly asked by a member of the Buckingham Palace household where she “really came from”.

Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space, described the conversation as a “violation” and said the experience at the Queen Consort's major engagement on violence against women on Tuesday will “never leave me”.

Buckingham Palace said it took the incident, which happened at the reception on Tuesday, “extremely seriously” and had investigated immediately.

Outlining her experience in a twitter post on Tuesday, Fulani wrote: "10 mins after arriving, a member of staff […] approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge".

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Fulani detailed the alleged conversation in a note posted alongside the tweet. She said the rest of the event was a "blur".

She claims the staff member asked her seven times where she was from. The CEO initially replied saying, "Sistah Space", the women's charity she runs. Fulani further clarified that she and the organisation are "based in Hackney".

The CEO claims she was then asked: "No, what part of Africa are you from?"

The conversation between Fulani and a member of the Buckingham Palace household at the reception. 

Fulani says that she told the staff member four times that she is from the UK and of British nationality, eliciting replies such as: "No, but where do you really come from" and "I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you're from".

The CEO added "there was nobody to report it to" and that it "was such a shock to me and the other two women, that we were stunned into temporary silence.

"I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled and engaged briefly with who spoke to me until I could leave".

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details.

“In this instance, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made. We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes.

“In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect.

“All members of the Household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”

Ngozi Fulani's account of the incident was corroborated by Mandu Reid — leader of the Women's Equality Party.

Reid wrote on Twitter: "I was right there. I witnessed this first hand. We were at an event that was supposed to celebrate our work. For people like [the staff member] people like us will never really belong here".

A follow-up tweet posted on the Sistah Space account said the group had no intention of revealing the name of the person involved, adding: "It is the system that needs to be revised […] it serves no purpose to name and shame [them] it would make us just as bad. We prefer that this be handled kindly."

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Fulani had been invited to the reception for the work she has done in raising awareness of the violence faced by women and girls.

The reception was part of the UN 16 days of activism against gender-based violence initiative. The Queen Consort gave a speech at the reception, during which she said of those in attendance that their work was "vital" and "evidence that we can have hope as we towards our goal of ending violence against women and girls".

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