LONDON — Prince William’s office said “racism has no place in our society” as he sought to prevent backlash over his godmother’s treatment of a black advocate for domestic violence survivors from overshadowing his trip to the United States .
Lady Susan Hussey, 83, resigned as an honorary member of the royal household on Wednesday after the director of an east London women’s shelter said Hussey repeatedly asked her where she was “really from” after telling the elderly woman she was British. The exchange took place at a reception at Buckingham Palace for those committed to ending domestic violence.
“Racism has no place in our society,” his Kensington Palace office said. “These comments were unacceptable and it is right that the individual resigned with immediate effect.”
The incident sparked further accusations of “institutional racism” at the palace on the first day of the Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Boston. While the trip is dedicated to the Earthshot Prize, William’s initiative to support entrepreneurs working on solutions to climate change and other environmental problems, the royal couple is also trying to show that the monarchy remains relevant in a multicultural world.
The episode recalls comments made by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, last year in an interview with American TV presenter Oprah Winfrey. Meghan, a biracial American who is married to William’s brother, claimed that a member of the royal family inquired about the color of her baby’s skin when she was pregnant with her first child.
The latest incident took place on Tuesday at a reception hosted by Camilla, the Queen’s consort, for women fighting domestic violence.
Ngozi Fulani, CEO of Sistah Space, an east London sanctuary that provides specialist support for women of African and Caribbean descent, described her exchange with a member of the royal family in a lengthy Twitter post.
Fulani said when she told the woman she was from East London she replied, “No, what part of Africa are YOU from?”
The questioner has since been identified as Hussey, who served as lady-in-waiting to the late Queen Elizabeth II for over 60 years and is one of William’s godmothers. She has apologized for “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
The incident comes at an important time for the royal couple
But the incident comes at an important time for the royal couple – their first overseas trip in eight years and their first since becoming Prince and Princess of Wales following the Queen’s death.
The highlight of the three-day visit to Boston comes on Friday when William hosts the Earthshot Prize ceremony, headlined by artists such as Billie Eilish.
But the trip also includes visits to an anti-poverty program, child development researchers and local flood defenses, demonstrating the couple’s commitment to important issues facing the modern world.
The visit comes less than three months after the death of Elizabeth, whose personal popularity during her 70-year reign dampened criticism of the crown. King Charles III, William’s father, has made it clear that he will be a slimmed-down monarchy, with less pomp and circumstance than his predecessors.
William and Kate arrived at Boston Logan International Airport on Wednesday, where they were greeted by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. The couple later attend a Boston Celtics basketball game.
Upon landing, William thanked local residents “for their many tributes to the late Queen”, noting that his grandmother remembered her bicentennial visit to Boston in 1976 “with great affection”.