The royal couple arrived in Boston on Wednesday for a three-day visit that ends Friday when they announce the winners of their Earthshot Prize, a global competition aimed at discovering ways to protect the planet and fight climate change. The couple attended the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat basketball game Wednesday night, sitting courtside with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Governor-elect Maura Healey (D).
The White House has announced that President Biden plans to meet with William and Catherine on Friday when he is in Boston. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that officials were finalizing details of the meeting.
But even before William and Catherine landed, word spread that Lady Susan Hussey, William’s godmother and a prominent lady-in-waiting to his grandmother, had resigned her role within the royal household. Hussey resigned a day after allegedly pressuring a black British guest at Buckingham Palace about where she was “really from.”
When announcing Hussey’s resignation, Buckingham Palace “profoundly apologized for the pain caused”.
Prince William’s godmother steps down from royal role over treatment of black palace guest
Ngozi Fulani, a British activist and head of a domestic violence charity, was at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday for a reception to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. She then tweeted that a palace staffer, whom she identified only as “Lady SH”, came up to her and repeatedly asked her questions, such as “What part of Africa are you from?” and “What nationality are you?”
When Fulani insisted she was “born here and am British”, the woman is said to have asked, “But where are you really from?”
Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace. 10 minutes after arriving, a member of staff, Lady SH, approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge. The conversation below took place. The rest of the event is a blur.
Thank you @ManduReid & @SuzanneEJacob for support pic.twitter.com/OUbQKlabyq
— Sistah Space (@Sistah_Space) November 30, 2022
The back-and-forth felt like “an interrogation,” Fulani later told the BBC. “You’re trying to make me feel unwelcome in my own space,” she said, describing the manner of questioning as a form of “abuse.”
It’s the latest race-related controversy shrouding the firm, as the UK’s royal family is known. Their quick response to the incident, with Buckingham Palace indicating that Fulani’s complaint was “immediately investigated” and that the member of the royal family involved “relinquished her role of honor with immediate effect”, suggests a realization that they cannot afford another blowout scandal .
Last year, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, told Oprah Winfrey in an interview that before the birth of their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the royal family expressed “concern” in “conversations” with Harry “about how dark [Archie’s] skin could be.
Meghan and Harry’s explosive interview reveals how royal family racism continues
The couple also accused the palace of maintaining a good relationship with British tabloids, refusing to defend Meghan against reporting that “incited so much racism” and of not helping her when she was in emotional distress. This environment, Harry and Meghan suggested, contributed to their 2020 decision to “step back” from their roles as senior members of the royal family and move to North America. They now live in California.
The relationship between the couple and the rest of the royal family has been fraught ever since, although they all reunited earlier this year for the funeral of Harry and William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. But William and Catherine’s visit to the United States is likely to put the spotlight back on the relationship between the brothers – and their husbands. British media have reported that Harry and William will not see each other there.
Harry and Meghan’s children are entitled to royal titles. Will they get them?
The timing is challenging: Harry and Meghan are about to release a Netflix documentary series that has raised questions about whether the couple will make further accusations of racism within the royal family. The trailer for the series, Harry & Meghan, was released on Thursday.
And next week they will also receive an award from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation. They were named recipients of the Ripple of Hope award in October and were celebrated by the foundation’s president for having the “moral courage” to publicly denounce the “structural racism” within the monarchy.
“They went to the oldest institution in UK history and told them what they were doing wrong, that they couldn’t have structural racism within the institution; that they couldn’t keep a misunderstanding about mental health,” said Kerry Kennedy, one of Robert Kennedy’s surviving children, according to Insider.
British media outlets seized on an awkward parallel: Just a few days earlier, William and Catherine were due to hold their own event featuring members of the Kennedy family, when they host the Earthshot award ceremony – which was inspired by John F. Kennedy’s famous moonshot speech — in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Karla Adam contributed to this report.