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Where are you from...really

Pauline Nevins  February 11-12, 2023 - Auburn Journal

Who, you might ask, are Ms. Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey? You’re forgiven if you don’t recall the names, or their verbal exchange at Buckingham Palace in November when the good Lady Susan dropped a royal clanger, or two, or six.

The event in question was a reception to combat violence against women organized by the Queen Consort, Camilla, wife of King Charles. Ms. Fulani was there representing her British charity, Sistah Space, which provides domestic abuse services for women and girls of African heritage.


Lady Susan was helping to host, as she often did with events held at Buckingham Palace. M’Lady, the youngest daughter of the 12th Earl of Waldegrave, served as Woman of the Bedchamber to the late Queen Elizabeth II. You can imagine her duties. Lady Susan’s nickname within royal circles was Number One Head Girl, a reference to a female student in the top leadership position.

Lady Susan, as reported by Ms. Fulani, may have singled her out among the packed room of 300 guests because of her appearance. Ms. Fulani had tied a red, gold and green headband around her long dreadlocked hair, and around her neck she wore a string of cowrie shells that represent protective powers among many African tribes. Curious to read Ms. Fulani’s name badge, Lady Susan reached forward and moved Ms. Fulani’s dreadlocks aside.

OK. Now, Woman of the Bedchamber and Head Girl, you don’t touch the hair of a complete stranger, even if that very hand touched a queen. Following that faux pas, Lady Susan, according to Ms. Fulani, asked her where she was from, not once, not twice but six different ways, despite Ms. Fulani’s repeated response that she was British, born in Hackney, a London borough six miles from Buckingham Palace.

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