Who Is Prince William's Godmother, Lady Susan Hussey?

Lady Susan Hussey's name was unexpectedly tossed into the spotlight at the end of November 2022 after she was accused of racism by British charity owner Ngozi Fulani, following a conversation the two had while attending an event in support of ending violence against women and girls in the United Kingdom. Fulani explained that Hussey interrogated her about her ancestry, refusing to believe that she was British-born. Fulani, who first tweeted about her experience on November 30, later told The Guardian, that it felt "like an interrogation. I guess the only way I can explain it, she's determined: 'Where are you from? Where are your people from?'"

Hussey subsequently resigned from her decades-long service to the monarchy and her comments were denounced by Buckingham Palace. William, Prince of Wales, also issued a statement about the exchange that affirmed his agreement with Hussey's resignation. His statement read, in part, "The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect" (via the BBC).

If you weren't familiar with Lady Susan Hussey prior to this incident, you may be wondering who exactly she is, and what her role in the British monarchy was. Here's what you should know.

Lady Susan Hussey was a lady-in-waiting for Queen Elizabeth

Traditionally, women in the British royal family have enjoyed close friendships with a group of women referred to as their ladies-in-waiting. The women who make up this small group are born to noble families but hold a lower rank than the member of the royal family they serve. In the Middle Ages, ladies-in-waiting assisted the monarch or royal woman they served with specific tasks, like getting dressed, tending to matters of personal hygiene, and so on; however, this has evolved over the centuries.

As for Lady Susan Hussey, she enjoyed a close friendship with Queen Elizabeth II for decades — up until the time of the queen's death. Hussey largely flew under the radar throughout that time, though she certainly had the noble background that qualified her for service to the monarch. Hussey was born in 1939 to the 12th Earl Waldegrave and Mary Hermione, Countess Waldegrave. Hussey's brother William Waldegrave worked in the British government as a cabinet minister.

She grew close to King Charles III

Lady Susan Hussey was close not only with Queen Elizabeth II but also King Charles III. The fact that he named her one of Prince William's godparents after his birth in June 1982 demonstrated that closeness. Hussey joined five other godparents at the request of the king then known as Prince Charles (via Daily Mail).

While it might seem a little surprising that William has six godparents, it makes a lot of sense in the context of his position in the royal family. As Robert Jobson, the royal editor of the Evening Standard, explained to ABC News, there's a good reason for the future king to have so many people in his corner. Jobson said, "There's a feeling that because of their role as members of the royal family that they need as many confidants as they can get apart from their parents." In other words, because William has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, having numerous adults with whom he can truly confide will only be an asset for him.

Lady Susan Hussey began working for the royal family in 1960

Lady Susan Hussey was brought into the royal family in 1960 following the birth of Queen Elizabeth II's third child, Prince Andrew. Her original role within the monarchy was to assist with reading and responding to the deluge of mail that Elizabeth received as monarch. Elizabeth clearly took a liking to Hussey, and she was soon known as the late queen's "Number One Head Girl" throughout the castle, according to Tatler.

Hussey, whose position within the monarchy allowed her to become close to both the late queen and King Charles III, was considered a confidant who could be trusted beyond measure. This became especially apparent when, in April 2021, Hussey accompanied Elizabeth in the royal Bentley ahead of Prince Philip's funeral. The following year, she led a group of members of the royal household at Queen Elizabeth's funeral (via The Guardian).

Lady Susan Hussey earned several titles throughout her career

Lady Susan Hussey's time as a lady-in-waiting for Queen Elizabeth II was a successful one in terms of promotion. While the position was unpaid and Hussey was a close friend of the late queen and other members of the royal family, she still earned various titles and ranks throughout her decades serving the monarch. According to The Guardian, she earned multiple service awards for her time.

In 2013, Hussey was promoted to Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (RVO). The ranking is incredibly personal, as many learned in June 2019 when Catherine, Princess of Wales, received the same title from Queen Elizabeth. The designation is the highest form of chivalry awarded to those who have demonstrated services to the ruling monarch (via Harper's Bazaar). As royal reporter and author Omid Scobie explained in a tweet, "The RVO was invented by Queen Victoria in 1896 to allow her to personally thank and honour people who had helped her directly, or represented her across the Empire."

Lady Susan Hussey's daughter became a companion to Camilla, Queen Consort

The close ties that Lady Susan Hussey nurtured within the royal family have gone on to benefit her daughter, Lady Katherine Brooke. On November 27, 2022, she was named a queen companion to Camilla, Queen Consort. At the same time, Buckingham Palace issued a statement, explaining the change from "ladies-in-waiting" to "queen's companions" (via The Washington Post).

Brooke and the five other women make up Camilla's queen companions — a role that the queen consort came up with herself. Unlike ladies-in-waiting of the past, queen companions will no longer be required to assist with mail or anything related to administration. Instead, they will attend important and international events and meetings alongside the queen consort.

In addition to choosing Lady Susan Hussey's daughter, Camilla selected Sarah Troughton, a friend and former lady-in-waiting to the Duchess of Kent; Jane von Westenholz, a close friend and the mother of Meghan Markle's good friend Violet von Westenholz; friend Lady Sarah Keswick; friend Fiona, the Marchioness of Lansdowne; and former politician Baroness Carlyn Chisholm (via Harper's Bazaar).

Lady Susan Hussey was briefly featured on The Crown

Lady Susan Hussey was so integral to Queen Elizabeth II's monarchy that she was even briefly featured in Season 4 of the Netflix series "The Crown." Fans of the show can spot Hussey in the episode about Princess Diana's notorious "Panorama" interview with Martin Bashir. Hussey, who is portrayed by Haydn Gwynne, and her husband are depicted on the show as stalwart champions of Elizabeth's monarchy and reputation.

In the episode, Elizabeth and her ladies-in-waiting celebrate Hussey's birthday over glasses of champagne and slices of cake. The group begins chatting about a horse race that will take place at Cheltenham. The queen expresses disappointment that it wouldn't be broadcast on the BBC since she won't be able to see the race in person, and Hussey informs her that the national network couldn't afford to pay the price requested to keep the race on its airwaves. Hussey later gets an idea to air a birthday special for the queen and proposes the idea to her husband, who works for the BBC. However, Diana's bombshell interview airs instead. Both Lady Susan Hussey and her husband, Lord Hussey, are seen apologizing to the queen, and Lord Hussey offers his resignation.

In truth, Susan's husband did retire from the Board of Governors of the BBC due, in part, to the director general of the BBC failing to share with him what was in the interview. 

Lady Susan Hussey was reportedly asked to help Meghan Markle adjust to royal life

While she was most often known to be of enormous help to Queen Elizabeth II, Lady Susan Hussey was also asked to step in to guide or otherwise help other members of the royal family. According to the Daily Mail, Hussey was asked to help Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, adjust to the demands of royal life back in 2018. However, royal author insists in his book, "Revenge: Meghan, Harry, and the War Between the Windsors," that things between Hussey and Meghan fell apart rather quickly. 

According to Bower, Hussey was attending a lunch with higher-ups in the British theater to discuss what patronages Meghan, a former actor, might take on once she and Harry were married. The conversation took place only months before Prince Harry and Meghan were to be married, and Hussey reportedly made reference to the pair's union, telling attendees, "That will all end in tears. Mark my words."