Did 83-year-old Lady Susan Hussey - a loyal lady-in-waiting to the Queen for 60 years - really have to be eviscerated and globally humiliated because she asked Ngozi Fulani where she was from during a Buckingham Palace reception about global domestic violence?
Yes, Lady Susan’s questions to Ms Fulani were cack-handed and clumsy. She made the assumption that the charity boss wasn’t British because she was black and wearing what looked like an African costume.
And yes, I get that it was embarrassing because, as Ms Fulani says, it’s been happening all her life. But is it entirely surprising she was asked about her heritage while wearing African dress at a global event?
Yes, maybe Lady Hussey shouldn’t have persisted with her questions. But nothing she said warranted what has now happened to her. This is a woman whose life has been one of duty, loyalty and service to the Queen and Royal Family.
Now, having caused unintentional offence, she’s a pariah who’s being reviled and abused by people who, on the one hand, tell us to “Be Kind” and, on the other, see no harm is bringing an 83-year-old woman to her knees who for the rest of her life will becovered in shame over this.
Not just because she embarrassed Ms Fulani, but because she has embarrassed the Royal Family, a family she’s been at the heart of for decades.
She, more than most, understands the damage her mistake will do at a time Wills and Kate are touring the US. Today, Lady Susan will feel she can never again hold her head up in public, that her life and her career will forever be tainted by the shame of this.
This woman, whose life has been about staying in the background, is now splattered across the pages of newspapers everywhere, portrayed as some unfeeling, uncaring racist demon. She isn’t. She’s an old lady who got it wrong.
Ms Fulani says she felt “abused” by Lady Susan’s questions about where she was from. Why, I wonder, when she’s so (rightly) proud of her African heritage? But if we’re talking abuse, look at the abuse Lady Susan’s now getting from all corners of the globe.
Does her mistake, her rudeness, really warrant all that? Is it fair, or just, or commensurate with her “crime”? Did Ms Fulani – who doesn’t much like the Royal Family and has accused it of racism and committing domestic abuse against the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for not allowing Meghan to appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony – really want an 83-year-old woman destroyed, because of a two-minute conversation?
I’m wondering why she even went to the Palace if she has such a low opinion of the royals. Ms Fulani has said she felt “violated” after Lady Susan’s repeated questions about where she was from. But is it not conceivable or understandable that Lady Hussey was confused by her outfit?
Ms Fulani has publicly stated she loves wearing her African attire. She has also talked about being her “full African self”. Moreover, she was invited to BP because she’s the founder of Sistah Space, an initiative which supports women of African and Caribbean heritage.
Is there really not a sliver of space here to give Lady Susan the benefit of the doubt? Because there should be. Didn’t it occur to her that Lady Susan’s job is to find out who people are and where they are from before they introduce them to the Queen – in this case Camilla.
I hear that Ms Ngozi is upset. But does she honestly see what Lady Susan did as “abuse”? It’s a very inflammatory word which suggests she thinks it was intentional and I don’t believe for a second it was.
Why is no one allowed to apologise any more – especially if the row is about race or diversity? No one is allowed to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. I got it wrong”.
They have to be brutally disembowelled in front of the world. Their reputation, their very life, has to be ripped to shreds. Everything they have done and achieved must be crushed and wiped out. Ignorance isn’t good – but neither is this!
Fulani (centre-left) attending the Buckingham Palace event where she met Lady Susan (Image: Getty)