Racism controversy erupts as William and Kate visit Boston

LONDON — Prince William’s office said “racism has no place in our society” as it tries to prevent backlash over his godmother’s treatment of a Black lawyer for victims of domestic abuse from overshadowing his trip to the United States.

Lady Susan Hussey, 83, resigned as honorary member of the royal family on Wednesday after Hussey, managing director of a women’s shelter in East London, repeatedly asked her “where she really came from” after telling the old woman she was British. The change took place at a Buckingham Palace reception for those working to end domestic violence.

“There is no place for racism in our society,” said his Kensington Palace office. “These comments were unacceptable and it was right for the person to step aside immediately.”

The incident rekindled allegations of “institutional racism” at the palace on the first day of the Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Boston. The trip focuses on William’s Earthshot Award, an initiative to support entrepreneurs working on solutions to climate change and other environmental problems, while the royal couple also strive to demonstrate that monarchy remains viable in a multicultural world.

The episode reminds me of the statements Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, made in an interview with American TV presenter Oprah Winfrey last year. Meghan, a bi-racial American married to William’s brother, claimed that a member of the royal family asked her about her baby’s skin color when she was pregnant with her first child.

The most recent incident occurred at a reception for women working to combat domestic violence on Tuesday hosted by his queen consort Camilla.

Ngozi Fulani, CEO of Sistah Space, an East London shelter that provides expert support to women of African and Caribbean descent, detailed her exchange with a member of the royal family in a lengthy Twitter post.

When Fulani told the woman she was from east London, “No, where in Africa are you from?”

The person asking the question has been Queen Elizabeth II for more than 60 years, since then. She was identified as Hussey, who served as Elizabeth’s mistress and was one of William’s godmothers. Buckingham Palace said in a statement that it apologized for “unacceptable and extremely upsetting comments”.

But the event came at a big moment for the royal couple – their first overseas trip in eight years and the first since becoming the Prince and Princess of Wales following the queen’s death.

The highlight of the three-day visit to Boston will take place on Friday as William hosts the Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, organized by demonstrators including Billie Eilish.

But the trip will also include visits to an anti-poverty programme, child development researchers and local flood defenses, demonstrating the couple’s commitment to the important issues facing the modern world.

The visit comes less than three months after Elizabeth’s death, whose personal popularity dampened criticism against the crown during her 70-year reign. William’s father, King George III.

William and Kate arrived at Boston Logan International Airport on Wednesday, where they were met by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. The couple then attend a Boston Celtics basketball game.

Upon landing, William thanked local residents “for their respect for the late queen” and noted that he remembers “with great affection” his grandmother’s bicentennial visit to Boston in 1976.

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