'You don’t hit 83 years old and get a hall pass to be racist,' writes Lillie Almond

2 December 2022, 11:03 | Updated: 2 December 2022, 15:10

Lillie Almond (l) says being 83 is no excuse for Susan Hussey (bottom right) following her comments to charity CEO Ngozi Fulani (top r)
Lillie Almond (l) says being 83 is no excuse for Susan Hussey (bottom right) following her comments to charity CEO Ngozi Fulani (top r). Picture: Global/Getty
Lillie Almond

By Lillie Almond

I’m seeing a lot of, “She’s 83! It’s generational!”

And you know what, that’s what people said to me when a woman persistently hounded me about where I’m actually from while I was reporting at a lido a few years ago.

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I too was met with, “It’s because she’s old,” with one person even saying to me that it’s fine, because she’ll die soon and her views will die with her. And that felt like denial. A shoulder shrug, an eye-roll and a hall pass.

But you don’t hit 83 and get a hall pass to be a racist. It doesn’t come free with the TfL bus pass either.

Let’s put the ageism aside. I recognise that we all make mistakes, because I talk about this stuff all day and I make mistakes. But to touch someone’s hair and say it’s going to be a “challenge” in finding out where they’re from - when they have already answered that very question - it’s the persistence, the context, the lack of regard for how the recipient is feeling. It’s everything.

And to blame age just doesn’t cut the mustard. I saw Kelechi Okafor say on Twitter that “Some of your children are six years old and racist,” and this hits the nail on the head.

You can be racist at any age - but please, just because you can, doesn’t mean to say you should.

So now there’s a really strong worldwide focus on this one woman, this one Lady Susan Hussey, Queen's Elizabeth II's former lady-in-waiting. This Royal aide didn’t blunder and let a single slur slip, rather she continuously violated the presence of a charity founder at a swish Buckingham Palace do. And this international focus comes for a whole bunch of reasons.

One of these is that this has refreshed the conversation about the racism that Meghan Markle faced while in the Royal Family. It’s freshened concerns that she repeatedly highlighted and was repeatedly criticised for


Some people are very shocked and many are outraged by what happened to Ngozi Fulani, because they’ve seen the encounter now that it’s been shared this widely. They’re appalled because, gosh, what does this say about the Royal Family? Suddenly people are oh so shocked that Meghan may’ve been telling the truth. Oh, how surprising, racism in the highest echelons, who’d have thought it?

But for those of us who’ve been interrogated like this before, it’s sadly unsurprising. Disgraceful, but unsurprising.

And that’s because, as Kelechi said in her Tweet above, we’ve seen and experienced microaggressions from all ages, and have experienced them since Primary School, if not before.

So that’s where learning needs to start. Not white-washed learning which paints a hoodwinked history about King Henry VIII or the Battle of Hastings (in 1066). We need a legit curriculum which unpacks why we, from all different countries, are here in the UK - or wherever we find ourselves.

If lessons don’t start in school and in the early years at home - this type of encounter and everything that surrounds it, will continue happening until goodness knows when. And the resulting faux-shock will have people eternally clutching their pearls while wilfully ignoring ever-present discrimination, if not taking part in it themselves.