A prominent black 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”.
Ngozi Fulani, chief executive of Sistah Space, described the conversation as a “violation” and said the experience at Camilla’s major engagement on violence against women on Tuesday will “never leave me”.
Ms Fulani said a household member challenged her when she said her charity was based in Hackney, saying: “No, what part of Africa are YOU from?”
She detailed the full alleged conversation, which she said happened ten minutes after she arrived, on Twitter, which included the exchange: “Where are you from?’
“Me: ‘Here, UK’. ‘No, but what nationality are you?’ Me: ‘I am born here and am British.’ ‘No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?’ Me: ”My people’, lady, what is this?’
“Oh, I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you’re from.”
Ms Fulani, who founded Sistah Space in 2015 to provide specialist support for African and Caribbean heritage women affected by abuse, wrote: “Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace.
“10 mins after arriving, a member of staff … approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge. The conversation below took place. The rest of the event is a blur.”
She thanked Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, and Safe Lives chief executive Suzanne Jacob for their support on the day.
Ms Reid, the first person of colour to lead a national political party in British history, tweeted that she had also heard the exchange.
“I was right there. I witnessed this first hand,” she said.
“We were at an event that was supposed to celebrate our work.
“For people like … people like us will never really belong here.”
Responding to messages of support, Ms Fulani wrote: “Standing there in a room packed with people while this violation was taking place was so strange, especially as the event was about violence against women.
“That feeling of not knowing what to do, will NEVER leave me. Almost alone in a room full of advocates.”
She said it was a “struggle to stay in a space where you were violated”.
She outlined her distress at not being able to report the incident, saying she felt she could not tell Camilla.
“There was nobody to report it to. I could’nt (sic) report it to the Queen Consort, plus it was such a shock to me and the other 2 women, that we were stunned to temporary silence,” she wrote.
“I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled & engaged briefly with who spoke to me until I could leave.”
Ms Jacob tweeted it was “a horrible thing to happen, and in a space that should have been nothing but love and celebration” and said she would be raising it with the team who organised for them to be there.
Buckingham Palace has declined to comment at this stage.
The alleged matter raises serious questions for the Palace, where an unnamed royal was accused last year by the Duchess of Sussex of racism against her unborn son Archie.
Meghan, the first mixed race person to marry a senior royal for centuries, said during her Oprah interview that a royal – not the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh – expressed concerns with Harry about how dark Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.
The Queen issued a statement saying that the issues raised would be dealt with privately as a family, but that “some recollections may vary”.
Sistah Space said they would not be naming the household member, adding: “We at Sistah Space would like to raise awareness about this issue rather than shame another individual.”