A sucker punch to hopes of making royals look modern: REBECCA ENGLISH examines the potential fallout from Lady Hussey’s remarks
I was at this week’s Buckingham Palace reception to highlight the incredible work being done, in the words of the Queen Consort, to end the sickening global pandemic of violence against women and girls.
It was a joyful, empowering and, yes, diverse event: three queens, a princess and a countess mixing with dedicated professionals and volunteers from across the world with a united aim.
The buzz among this group of female pioneers – I spoke to women not just from the UK and Europe but Sierra Leone and Nigeria – was electrifying and a cause for optimism.
Now it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Ngozi Fulani’s description of the shock, anger and humiliation she felt at being quizzed about her ethnic background will linger long in the memory.
Ngozi Fulani ( centre left) said the description of the shock, anger and humiliation she felt at being quizzed about her ethnic background will linger long in the memory
The fact that even one woman left the palace feeling like that is plainly wrong and will spark renewed debate about royal race relations.
Buckingham Palace has been left reeling by the incident.
Whether it was unacceptable but unintentionally offensive, or malice – and everyone I have spoken to, including those who know Lady Susan, stresses it was the former – it is a sucker punch to the Royal Family’s attempts to project a modern monarchy.
It is why they moved so quickly to acknowledge how objectionable the comments were, issuing a statement in little more than two hours.
It is simply not acceptable in this day and age to dismiss what was said as a generational aberration.
The prominent advocate for survivors of domestic abuse has revealed how she was repeatedly asked by a member of the Buckingham Palace household at the Queen Consort’s reception where she ‘really came from’
As one senior former palace aide told me yesterday, it would have been unthinkable for Queen Elizabeth to have ever uttered anything similar.
Since her death, the Royal Family largely haven’t put a foot wrong.
King Charles and the Queen Consort have travelled the country meeting as many members of the public as possible and, crucially, listening to their hopes, fears and concerns.
As I write this in Boston, the Prince and Princess of Wales are beginning a high-profile visit to the US. The broadcast coverage is wall to wall and the excitement – if the TV anchors are anything to go by – is very real.
It is the first time they have stepped on US soil since 2014. And it will also be the first time they have been in North America since Harry and Meghan moved to California and accused the Royal Family directly of racism.
The accusations led William to strongly state that ‘we are very much not a racist family’.
But the damage has continued, dogging William and Kate’s last tour to the Caribbean, which was plagued – often unfairly – by criticism that it struck too much of a ‘colonial’ tone.
That this new trip risks again being overshadowed by a race row is a crushing blow to the couple.
William’s spokesman was quick to condemn what happened yesterday, speaking from the heart because it is what William passionately believes.
But these remain testing times for the monarchy.