BOSTON ― Before Prince William kicked off his first event in Boston on Wednesday, Rev. Mariama White-Hammond asked audience members gathered to see the royals at City Hall “to consider the legacy of colonialism and racism” prior to the prince taking the stage.
“The ways it has impacted people across the world and its connection, its deep connection to the degradation of land and our planet that we are all seeking to reverse,” White-Hammond, who is Boston’s chief of environment, energy and open space, said to the crowd.
“The stories lost, the species made extinct, but also the persistence of people in the face of oppression and the fundamental dignity of all of our relations,” she added.
White-Hammond’s comments came after a spokesperson for the Prince of Wales on Wednesday morning condemned a racist incident that occurred at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.
A spokesperson from the Mayor’s Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space confirmed that the remarks in White-Hammond’s speech were planned before the incident at the palace in London was revealed.
Ngozi Fulani, the founder of the charity Sistah Space, said that she was invited to a reception at the palace by Queen Consort Camilla. At the event, a member of the royal household repeatedly asked her “what part of Africa” she was from and touched her hair, she said.
The member of the staff, whom Fulani referred to as “Lady SH,” is widely thought to be Lady Susan Hussey, 83, who is Prince William’s godmother and a former lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth.
William’s team wasted no time in directly condemning the remarks in statements shared on Wednesday.
“I was really disappointed to hear about the guest’s experience at Buckingham Palace last night,” a spokesperson for Kensington Palace said. “Obviously I wasn’t there, but racism has no place in our society. The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect.”
The spokesperson added that the prince wouldn’t be commenting further, as the incident was a matter for Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace said it was taking the matter “extremely seriously” in regards to the “unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments [that] have been made.”
“In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect.”
The royal family has faced increasing calls to reckon with its history of colonialism and slavery over the years, as well as deal with claims of racism within its own family.