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The Prince and Princess of Wales’ first overseas trip since the Queen’s death has been overshadowed by controversy at home.

William and Kate arrived in Boston yesterday for a three-day visit before the Earthshot Prize, the prince’s environmental awards ceremony, on Friday.

Hours earlier, the prince’s godmother resigned from her duties at Buckingham Palace after repeatedly asking a black visitor “where she really came from”.

Ngozi Fulani, CEO of Sistah Space
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Ngozi Fulani
Lady Susan Hussey
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Lady Susan Hussey

A Kensington Palace spokesman who spoke to William before he boarded his flight said Lady Susan Hussey’s comments were “unacceptable” and that “racism has no place in our society”.

He added that Lady Hussey, 83, was right to have stepped aside from her honorary role as Lady of the Household with immediate effect.

The monarchy has faced allegations of institutional racism since Ngozi Fulani, a British-born charity boss, revealed what had happened at an event in Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.

Lady Hussey, who served as the Queen’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years, has offered her “profound apologies for the hurt caused”.

William focused on the Earthshot Prize as he greeted crowds in Boston, saying: “We are both looking forward to spending the next few days learning about the innovative ways the people of Massachusetts are tackling climate change.”

The White House has confirmed that the royal couple are set to meet Joe Biden, the president, later this week.

William and Kate sat courtside to watch an NBA game and were booed by small pockets of the crowd around the stadium when they were introduced by an announcer and shown on the big screen.

At one point, some fans in the crowd could be heard loudly cheering “USA, USA” when the couple appeared on the screens in the centre above the court.

File photo dated 29/11/2022 of Ngozi Fulani (centre left) at a reception at Buckingham Palace, London. The 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". Issue date: Wednesday November 30, 2022.
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Ngozi Fulani, left, and the Queen Consort at the palace on Tuesday

Analysis: William and Kate will work hard to win back America

Laura Bundock

Royal correspondent

@laurabundock

The timing could not be worse.

William and Kate haven’t been to the US for eight years, a time period that has seen monumental change for the monarchy.

It’s also their first time in America since Prince Harry and Meghan left Britain for California.

“What’s been unfolding in Britain over the past 24 hours provides a really prime opportunity for William and Kate,” said Arianne Chernock, Professor of British History at Boston University. “If they were to come out with their own public statement in Boston that would really resonate with the American public.”

This is a chance for them to rebuild royal relations in America.

The fallout from Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah, watched by millions around the world, damaged the image of the Royal Family.

This latest racism row will do little to repair that, especially in the US.

“This was not the sort of thing they wanted happening right at the start of their trip,” said Washington Post royal columnist Autumn Brewington. “This will be seen by many people as substantiating things that Meghan and Harry have said both in terms of perhaps the comments that were made to them, and the palace’s hesitation to act on things that were said to them.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will make more headlines soon with their impending Netflix series, and the release of Harry’s much-hyped memoir.

The Prince and Princess of Wales’ visit was supposed to help put the Royal Family back on the front foot in the US.

It also gives them a world stage to champion causes they care about.

Their engagements in Boston are based around climate change, vulnerable young people, sport and the early years.

“This is a really important moment for the couple to reset basically and indicate where the royal family is going to be in the years to come,” said Prof Chernock.

Boston has a deep history with the Royal Family, it was the birthplace of the American revolution, and there remains a fascination with the British monarchy.

Expect to see the Prince and Princess of Wales working hard to win back America.

Charity boss reacts to resignation

Buckingham Palace said yesterday that it was taking the incident “extremely seriously” and described Lady Hussey’s comments as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.

Ms Fulani works as an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and described the exchange as a “violation”.

Speaking to LBC, the chief executive of Sistah Space said “nobody from the palace has spoken to me”, but she would be “happy to have a conversation to bring about a positive solution”.

Reflecting further, she said: “To be honest I wish that the lady could be spoken to and know the damage she has caused and preferably not be front-facing.

“But for her to resign, that has nothing to do with me. I don’t feel good about that. She’s an elder and in my culture we respect elders.

“Conversations need to be had with the relevant people so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Last year, the Duchess of Sussex claimed that a member of the royal household raised concerns about what colour skin her son Archie would have before he was born.

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Hussey ‘interrogated’ Fulani – witness

Royals must ‘step up’

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, who was standing next to Ms Fulani and witnessed the exchange, said she was “stunned”.

“It was really uncomfortable. If Ngozi was a white woman there is no way that line of questioning would have taken place. It’s not what you expect,” she told Sky News.

“We weren’t gate crashers, but we were made to feel almost like trespassers.”

Asked if she was reassured by Lady Hussey stepping down and apologising, she said no – and that the royals need to “step up” and acknowledge that “institutional racism is part of the culture”.

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Couple ‘likely dead’ after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts

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Couple 'likely dead' after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts

An American couple who disappeared a week ago after their catamaran was hijacked by three escaped convicts are likely dead, police have said.

Police Commissioner Don McKenzie said the prisoners had escaped custody on the Caribbean island of Grenada on the 18 February and the following day commandeered a catamaran named Simplicity – with Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry on board.

“Information suggests that while travelling between Grenada and St Vincent, they disposed of the occupants,” Commissioner McKenzie said.

The couple was last seen on the night the prisoners escaped and their boat was later tracked leaving the Grenada late at night at an unusual speed.

Police in St Vincent and the Grenadines captured the three fugitives on Wednesday, he said, adding that a team from Grenada had been dispatched to collaborate on “having a complete and thorough investigation of the matters at hand”.

The island nations are separated by about 85 nautical miles.

Ron Mitchell, 30, Trevon Robertson, 19, and 25-year-old Abita Stanislaus were being held at the South Saint George Police Station near Grenada’s southwestern tip on charges of robbery with violence, when they escaped.

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Mitchell also faces counts of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.

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Police from St Vincent said in a statement they had discovered the ship with no bodies but items strewn across the deck and possible blood on board.

On Monday the suspects appeared in court in St Vincent on four immigration counts, to which they pleaded guilty, and they had been remanded into custody with sentencing set for 4 March.

St Vincent Police Superintendent Junior Simmons said that though the couple are presumed dead, “the investigation and search for the missing persons continues.”

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Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show

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Taylor Swift's dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show

An Australian photographer claims he was punched by Taylor Swift’s dad in Sydney following the singer’s concert.

Ben McDonald said he told police the incident happened at Neutral Bay Wharf, where Swift and her dad had just come ashore from a yacht hours after the singer’s final show in the city.

While officers did not release names, police said they are investigating an alleged assault by a 71-year-old man on a 51-year-old man at 2.30am local time.

Swift’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Rolling Stone magazine two people were “aggressively pushing” to get to Swift.

They added that the people grabbed security and threatened a member of the singer’s staff.

Mr McDonald said media had been waiting to picture the star as she walked towards two cars.

“There were about four or five security there and at one point, one of the American security started shoving his umbrella into me and my camera and then Taylor got in her car,” he said.

“Someone else came running at me and punched me in the left side of my face.

“Initially, I thought it was an Australian security that was trying to be the hero of the moment in the front of the Americans, but as it turned out it was her father.”

Mr McDonald said he recognised Swift’s father, Scott Swift, from a picture online – adding that he doesn’t have any bruising and didn’t need any treatment.

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“In 23 years, I haven’t been assaulted and punched in the chops, particularly by the talent’s dad,” he said.

“We didn’t go rushing down the jetty. We didn’t go rushing to the back of the boat. We waited for her to come up. Kept it very civil.

“But no, they… put the umbrellas up and umbrellas over her and then shove the umbrellas into our faces and then make out that we’re the ones making contact with them.”

Swift left the country on Tuesday after more than 600,000 fans saw her Eras Tour performance across seven concerts.

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Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed ‘by end of the weekend’

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Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed 'by end of the weekend'

Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can be secured by the weekend.

The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, next door to 30 Rock in New York, on Monday.

Flanked by late night TV show host Seth Meyers, Mr Biden was asked by reporters on when a ceasefire in Gaza could start.

In a surprise turn, he said that he hopes it will take place “by the end of the weekend”.

“My national security advisor (Jake Sullivan) tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” he said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Mr Biden’s comments come as Israel prepares to start a military operation in Rafah – which he has warned against without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.

Pic: AP
Image:
The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, New York. Pic: AP

Israel has said it will go ahead with an offensive on the city if hostages are not returned by 10 March, which is when Ramadan starts.

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According to NBC News, Sky news’ US partner network, Qatar is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas this week, and ceasefire negotiations have taken place between US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.

Should it happen, it would be the second ceasefire following one in November which saw several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli jails and about 100 hostages freed by Hamas.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said earlier on Monday that the Israeli Defence Force proposed a plan for the evacuation of civilians from “fighting areas” to the country’s war cabinet.

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