THE most telling detail in the latest palace controversy is the line about the name badge.

Few but the most interested royal-watchers will, prior to this week, have heard of Lady Susan Hussey, Prince William's godmother and former woman-of-the-bedchamber to the Queen.

In a recent reshuffle of the royal household following Her Majesty's death, Lady Hussey was moved to be a lady of the household, hosting events for the king.

After 60 years of largely under-the-radar employment, the Lady Hussey is, presumably, ruing the latest event she attended.

At a violence against women and girls reception hosted by Queen Camilla, Lady Hussey approached Ngozi Fulani, the founder of the charity Sistah Space, and asked her where she is from.

Failing to accept an initial answer of "Hackney", the former lady-in-waiting persisted with a line of questioning that grew increasingly intrusive and persistent, querying Ms Fulani's citizenship and origins.

What struck me was the opening of Ms Fulanie's account of proceedings. She said Lady Hussey had pushed aside her hair to read her name badge. The entitlement of someone touching another person without consent in that way, rather than merely asking their name. It takes balls or real thoughtlessness or extreme privilege to do that. Or all three.

As is the modern way, Ms Fulani tweeted about the experience, it was picked up by the press and, rapidly, the palace announced Lady Hussey had stepped down from her role with sincere apologies.

An unedifying and frustratingly distracting incident for King Charles and the royal household. Great timing for Harry and Meghan though. The day after the stooshie, Netflix dropped the first trailer for the Duke and Duchess's new fly-on-the-wall documentary.

Part of Lady Hussey's role as a courtier was to aid new arrivals in adapting to the ways of the Royal Household... including Meghan Markle and Princess Diana – you'd probably want to keep those off your CV.

But you can imagine the Duchess of Sussex's thoughts on the matter – and her sense of vindication. The fact that Harry and Meghan have so often and so very loudly highlighted their concerns about racism at the palace also undermines the repeated line from supporters that Lady Hussey's age puts her beyond reproach.

There must, surely, have been conversations across the palace households about the issue.

Lady Hussey is 83 but age is no excuse, particularly given the context. Much is being made of her 60 years of royal service by those attempting to justify the argument she should stay on in her role.

However, that fact supports the opposite take: she has been a companion to two Queens and will have been drenched in the mores of diplomacy. She is the daughter and sister of earls, mother to another Queen's companion, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and – this was a new one on me – holder of the Sash of Special Category of the Order of the Aztec Eagle.

Lady Hussey will also have had the opportunity to meet myriad people from myriad ethnicities and backgrounds and simply should know better.

Other supporters point out that asking where someone is from is hardly hate-filled. Sure, but context and the framing of the question are vital.

There can be a genuine curiosity to the question "Where are you from?" and, when asked appropriately, can lead to interesting and enlightening conversations. On my way back from Glasgow Airport recently the taxi driver had an accent I couldn't place so I asked him about it – but in the context of talking about travel and him mentioning first that he'd moved to Scotland.

He was from Chechyna, it turned out, and talked engagingly for the journey about the country and his family.

For Lady Hussey, the reply "Hackney" should have been enough. It was the persistent probing that led to the conclusion that this was no innocent question but something more insidious.

One of my favourite twists on this story is people defending Lady Hussey by styling her a "voluntary worker". As the kids used to say, lol.

There is a huge element of the entitlement of class at play here but before anyone starts thinking that we do things better in Scotland, we still have the actor James McAvoy's words ringing in our ears.

Anyone who found Mr McAvoy's revelations about the terrible time his co-stars had during the run of Cyrano de Bergerac in Glasgow to be shocking have really not been paying attention.

McAvoy also mentioned that these racist incidents in Glasgow were aimed at female members of the cast. Again, surprise! Women have been detailing the problem of street harassment – and worse – in the city for a long, long time.  

Regarding racism, you only have to look at any social media posts about multicultural Govanhill, in the city's south side, to find some truly dicey views – overtly racist or of the old "I'm not a racist but..." variety. There's a reason the city had a far-right candidate stand at the most recent council elections – they thought they had a fighting chance of a seat.

As someone who's tried it consistently for more than a decade, challenging the entrenched views of people in some quarters is nigh-on impossible; they can't reflect on their views due to a sense of grievance. I'm not unsympathetic to it: it's hard to honestly evaluate your own flaws.

But it's impossible to deal with an issue when those causing it are too busy taking offence to listen. I imagine that's a problem as universal to the pubs of Allison Street as it is to the royal palaces.

If you listen to various anecdotes from people who have spoken out in the wake of Ms Fulani's experience, this isn't a one-off or uncommon. The speed of the palace's response, and the snappy statement from Prince William, show that there is an understanding of how Lady Hussey's comments look and their impact.

It would be folly to put this down to a case of one bad apple. Rather, it's a systemic issue and one that needs to be further confronted.

It's a sensitive time for the House of Windsor – not only is the Netflix documentary imminent but Harry's tell-all memoir is due in the new year. It would certainly be wise to get ahead of it, not least at a time of flux for the royal family, and as the new king and new Prince of Wales seek to establish themselves as switched-on successors modernising the roles.

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