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Joe Biden’s visit with King Charles III made global headlines, not for their climate change conversation, but for a possible royal protocol breach. The president’s warm back pat wasn’t an issue for Charles, but the British tabloids went nuts about the situation.
This isn’t the first time it has happened, though, because a 2009 moment between Queen Elizabeth II and then First Lady Michelle Obama is being revisited. The memorable exchange was chronicled in Michelle’s memoir, Becoming, after the duo shared a relatable fashion conversation about how uncomfortable they were in their heels. “We looked at each other then with identical expressions, like, ‘When is all this standing around with world leaders going to finally wrap up?’ And with this, she busted out with a fully charming laugh,” Michelle wrote in her book.
It didn’t end there, though, the women lovingly embraced and Michelle put her hand on Elizabeth’s shoulders. The Queen also wrapped her white-gloved hand around Michelle’s back — it was so sweet and tender. “I then did what’s instinctive to me any time I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder,” she continued. “I couldn’t have known it at the moment, but I was committing what would be deemed an epic faux pas.” The British royalists went crazy about Michelle breaking that royal protocol about touching a monarch, even though the rule doesn’t even exist (which was proven again this week between Joe Biden and King Charles).
The Queen’s former dresser, Angela Kelly, alsodismissed the long-held belief and shared in her book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser, and the Wardrobe, that the incident with Michelle was much ado about nothing. “Much has been made about the meeting between Michelle and Her Majesty when an instant and mutual warmth was shared between these two remarkable women, and protocol was abandoned as they stood closely with their arms around each other’s backs,” Kelly wrote. “In reality, it was a natural instinct for the Queen to show affection and respect for another great woman and really there is no protocol that must be adhered to.”
Michelle chalked it up to a very “human” moment and that she has no regrets about the adorable hug. And as for the late Queen Elizabeth, she spoke highly of the Obamas and always enjoyed the visits they had together.
Before you go, click here to see every time Queen Elizabeth has met the US Presidents!
King Charles III’s Reaction to Joe Biden Breaking Royal Protocol Might Be a Sign That the Palace Is Finally Changing